Research Concludes that Anti-Piracy Advertising Only Likely Encouraged It!

/ 2 years ago
pirate piracy

We all know that piracy is a crime. No matter how you choose to morally wrap it up, it does ultimately boil down to theft. – And if you were to tell me that you’d never engaged in it at some point in your life, you’d have to forgive me if I took that with more than a little scepticism (and no, I’m not, incidentally, attempting to bail you in the comments section to reveal or deny your criminality).

There is, however, one thing I’m pretty sure we’ve all encountered at some point over the years and that’s anti-piracy advertising. Yes, admittedly, it’s dried up a little in recent years, but, depending on your age, there were more than a few iconic campaigns that were run over the years. – Following a report via TechDirt, however, it seems that somewhat ironically, these adverts might have done more harm than good.

Put simply, a collaborative effort of research has just just concluded that all anti-piracy advertising ever likely did was encourage piracy!

pirate piracy

Anti-Piracy Adverts = More Piracy!

Probably one of the most memorable pieces of anti-piracy advertising was the “You wouldn’t steal a car” campaign that ran throughout the 1990s and early to mid-2000s. It was literally plastered everywhere including television spots, movie theatres, and as a precursor to practically every mainstream VHS release.

The study has, however, concluded that such advertising, despite its ability to stick in the memory, probably only ever brought wider attention to piracy which, by proxy, played a factor in its propagation, not reduction! – Why though? Well, ultimately though the use of really bad comparative examples!

“The most striking example might be the (in)famous ‘You would not steal a car’ awareness video aired in cinemas and on DVDs worldwide during the 2000s. It compared downloading a movie to various forms of stealing, including reasonably relevant ones (stealing a DVD in a store) and somewhat absurd others (stealing handbags, TVs, cars), which diluted down the message.”

Some Advice!

The research report effectively concluded by suggesting that there are three key areas (or errors) that any future anti-piracy campaigns should probably avoid (paraphrasing somewhat):

  • Don’t even bother placing anti-piracy adverts before films or media releases. – The only people who’ll see them are those who actually legitimately paid for them! This isn’t your target audience!
  • Don’t use celebrities as anti-piracy spokespersons. – People rarely like to be lectured by the rich and/or powerful who can afford to have higher moral standards!
  • Stop making ludicrous comparisons. Ie. Stealing a car is clearly NOT the same as pirating a movie!
piracy games

Anti-Piracy Campaigns CAN Work – If Done Right!

In my opinion, one of the best recent(ish) examples of solid anti-piracy action was seen in ‘Game Dev Tycoon’. What happened here? Well, in a nutshell, the creators of the game released the pirate version themselves. Sounds mad, right? Well, it did come with a pretty notable catch. – Namely, the game would generally run fine for an hour or so, but then your ‘games’ created within the sim would stop making money and you’d be greeted with the inception-like message above.

It got even better though as many of the pirates took to the official Steam forums to complain about the ‘bug’ clearly not knowing that what they were actually doing was revealing themselves as playing a pirated copy rather than the legitimate version that didn’t contain this issue! – It was, quite frankly, a masterstroke by the developer that clearly highlighted the most obvious problem when it comes to piracy!

If you do, however, want to go down the rabbit hole deeper, I’d strongly recommend you check out the video below from Ashen’s who did a fantastic look at anti-piracy measures in the UK and why, quite frankly, they were mostly bloody awful!

What do you think? – Let us know in the comments!

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