The war against online piracy is entering a new era and there are several new weapons that could make an explosive impact in 2011.
The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) in November 2010. This bill would give the US Justice Department the power to shut down websites that are declared as being “dedicated to illegal file sharing”. Opposition to the bill centers around first amendment rights of free speech.
The bill was initially shelved in September but was taken up again by the committee in November. If it passes the House and Senate, and that is in no way a sure thing, it could mean a wave of pirate sites get taken down in 2011. (In late November 2010 the Department of Homeland Security conducted its largest raid of file-sharing sites seizing over 80 domains).
If COICA passes, it’s likely many pirate sites will simply move their operations off American soil and out of the jurisdiction governed by COICA. The US is already encouraging other nations to adopt legislation similar to COICA in their own countries (some nations, like Ecuador, already have something similar to COICA in place).
For more please read Chris Castle’s very informed new article Defending Property Rights, Hollywood Style
Google Policy Changes
Following the takedown of several domains late last year, Google made strides to tighten up it’s policy and make it more difficult for pirate sites to gain visibility in the search giant. At the same time they implemented strategies to give more prominence to sites that are legally hosting copyrighted materials.
Google also made it clear that they will be improving response time for takedown requests and improve efforts to remove AdSense ads from sites that pirate copyrighted materials.
The number of pirate sites that rank in Google (or even exist in their index) will taper off in 2011, and it’s no surprise. It behooves Google to be as cooperative on the piracy issue as possible in light of the concern many people have that COICA might even bring YouTube to its knees.
Hitting Pirates Where It Hurts…Their Bank Account
Likely the most effective strategy will come from corporations themselves. The whole reason pirate sites exist is to make money. Most of their revenue comes from online advertisements. These ads come from some pretty big players including major brands like KFC and even Netflix. Often these corporations don’t know where their ads are ending up.
Now that Disney and Warner Brothers have won their lawsuit against Triton Media, there should be a big reduction in advertising dollars sent to pirate sites. (Triton Media, is alleged to have provided advertising consulting and referrals for nine websites identified as “one-stop-shops” for infringing works).
One of the outcomes of that lawsuit is that advertisers can now get a list of sites known to pirate content and can then avoid placing ads on those sites. Companies like Disney and Warner Brothers will now have a list available so they can easily see if the companies managing their advertising campaigns are keeping company dollars out of the pockets of pirates.
Laser Accurate Pirate Tracking
New technology allows movie studios to create a unique tracking code for each movie they create. This tracking code will allow officials to pinpoint the exact moment piracy is committed and tag the person in the distribution chain that is responsible for leaking copyrighted material.
While the movie industry has had a lot of personal experience with pirates themselves, they’ve also been able to learn a great deal from the mistakes of the music industry. As piracy issues are analyzed, trends are appearing. These trends can be leveraged to deal some serious blows to piracy. It’s kind of like cutting off an army’s supply lines, and anti-piracy initiatives will be using these trends to their advantage in 2011.