Gale Anne Hurd..

Gale Anne Hurd has experienced the temptation of piracy (Photo: Wikipedia)

Piracy is tough to fight. It’s especially tough at a  time when there is so much compelling content out there. And it’s all available, legally or not, at the click of a button. To fight it effectively it’s truly necessary to enlist the big guns, the companies that serve as the gatekeepers to what we see on line.

At this week’s Content Protection Summit Gale Anne Hurd, executive producer of “The Walking Dead,” revealed that the one thing that kept her from downloading an illegal stream of her beloved Arsenal Football Club of England’s Premier League was her iPad. She had actually entered her credit card information to see a game before realizing that the stream wasn’t available on her iPad. That goes to show you the nature of the challenge – how tough it can be to fight piracy in the trenches. Many viewers want it when they want it, piracy or not.

Hurd definitely understands the economics involved. This past October the season premiere of “The Walking Dead” was downloaded more than 500,000 times in 24 hours. Hurd said that a big part of the problem is enablement. Major players are not doing enough to prevent access to illegal downloads. She placed some of the blame on Google for allowing advertising by piracy sights. But Google is hardly alone. There are ad agencies, ad networks and brands themselves who are at a minimum looking the other way. She said, ““They have to believe it’s in their best interests [to stop], that it’s going to hurt their bottom line,” she said. “[But] right now they’re profiting off it.” Hurd added that she doesn’t buy the argument that piracy is good for business.

It’s hard to find corporate support for something that contributes directly to the bottom line, especially when demand is so high. The demand for piracy has to be opposed at home as well as at the corporate level. Parents need to set an example and to explain the true moral equivalency between going into a store and shoplifting a DVD and doing what is truly its online equivalent. “We have to craft a message … [and] it needs to be a relatable message that people understand. The fact it’s called file sharing [doesn’t help]. Maybe if it was called file stealing, people would understand the consequences.”

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