NBC Tower front entrance in Chicago

NBC Tower front entrance in Chicago (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

At the inaugural Digital Entertainment World conference in Los Angeles, anti-piracy measures were high on the list of talking points. Executives from NBC Universal and FX Networks both spoke out about the need for greater self-regulation from gatekeepers, especially as piracy continues to expand by almost every measure.

“If we sit back and let existing trends continue, the future will not be a pleasant one,” said Rick Cotton, senior counselor of IP protection at NBC Universal.

His assessment is backed up by the stats. Recent reports from the Digital Citizens Alliance and NetNames have demonstrated not only the widespread use of sites that provide illegal access to content under copyright, but the vast amounts of money that they make from advertising by doing so. An increase in pirate activity of almost 10% coincided with pirate sites making a projected $227 million in ad revenues last year, when these reports are compared, showing the size of the tide that broadcasters are trying to stem.

The point that Mr. Cotton made, alongside industry peer John Landgraf, CEO of FX Networks, is that legal action alone is not enough to combat piracy. They focus instead on the gatekeepers of web content, primarily referencing Google and its video platform YouTube, as the next front on which to improve anti-piracy measures.

Landgraf compares the situation to a maturation process, whereby the young and carefree companies of the  early Internet must now face up to the realities of adulthood. Google makes a sizable proportion of its search ad income on results related to the entertainment industry and its content, therefore they must now do a better job of protecting it.

In many ways this argument parallels the wild early days of the web and the more mature business environment that it now represents. The growing pains are largely over now that access is so widespread and connectivity almost seamless in many regions. The excuses that were tolerated during the Internet’s adolescence will no longer wash, now that the business models have graduated with proven revenues and long-term growth prospects.

To extend the metaphor a little further, the gatekeeper graduates now have their high-paying jobs. It’s time to start paying back those student loans.

Enhanced by Zemanta