How Territorialisation is Driving Consumer Piracy

By , posted 8 April 2008

The battle against online piracy has intensified of late, with the likes of the RIAA/MPAA attempting to enlist the support of governments in several countries, including the UK, France, and Denmark in their efforts to try and force ISPs to become their deputy sheriffs in the war against file-sharers.

Despite this latest step, plus years of lawsuits and several high-profile closures of peer-to-peer services, consumer piracy is very much on the increase. Although there is a small minority who feel that media should be free - known as "freetards" due to their seeming inability to grasp the concept that people who make media content deserve to be able to earn a living from their efforts - for the vast majority of file-sharers it is not about theft (as the MPAA/RIAA would have it). Rather, it is simply about two things: price and access.

Price is the simpler of the two problems to resolve - basically, there is a growing disconnect between the value placed on media by the marketplace, and the value placed on it by its owners and distributors. Bringing the cost of media more in line with its perceived value will go along way to reducing the consumer's motivation to seek out illegal copies. However, on the access side, more fundamental changes to the traditional media business model are required.

Historically, a key component of access to media has been the territorialisation of rights; in other words, divvying up the rights to a piece of content by geographic territory. Territorialisation has long been a mainstay of the media distribution business model, but its days are numbered. In this academic paper, editor-in-chief, Benjamin Craig, argues that dismantling the 20th century territorial model is a critical and unavoidable step in the media industry's quest to turn the tide of consumer piracy.

» Read the full paper (PDF, 168K)

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