Securing Your Intellectual Property: Tips for Avoiding Copyright Infringement and Piracy


Just a few years ago, no one would have imagined that by 2021, technology would provide exciting new opportunities in the entertainment industry through video streaming services. These advances have made it easier for people worldwide to enjoy music, films, and television programming; however, it has also increased the instances of intellectual property rights violations.

Streaming and Copyright Infringement

With the growing popularity of streaming platforms, there is increased competition to “cash in” by creating content for them. Unfortunately, the regulatory framework has been slow to catch up with the current environment, leaving streaming services, content creators, and those managing rights in the dark regarding their rights and obligations under intellectual property law.

Copyright infringement occurs whenever a derivative work is reproduced, performed, distributed, publicly displayed, or created from existing copyrighted material without explicit permission from the copyright owner. Unfortunately, some of the most successful movies ever made have been the subject of copyright infringement lawsuits. While some cases settle out of court, others lead to lengthy and costly trials.

The Effect of Copyright Infringement and Piracy on the Entertainment Industry

Copyright infringement and piracy are significant issues for creators, media companies, and publishers in the digital content space. Unfortunately, they are also not victimless crimes. Here are some sobering statistics:

  • Piracy via streaming sites shot up 16% in 2021.

  • In 2020, there were an estimated 137.2 billion visits to film and television piracy sites, costing the U.S. economy an estimated $29 billion in lost revenue annually and robbing the entertainment industry of hundreds of thousands of jobs.

  • In April 2022, a major streamer reported a loss of 200,000 subscribers in Q1, its first substantial loss in more than a decade. While the platform did not blame the drop solely on piracy, it is now investing millions of dollars in fighting the problem and has its own anti-piracy department.

  • Over 80% of all global online piracy is connected to illegal streaming services.

Staying Proactive Against Infringements 

All this unfortunately means content creators and those managing rights must understand how copyright infringement occurs and take steps to help ensure they don’t encounter challenges to distribution or monetization. 

Proactive strategies and tactics to employ include:

  • Implementing a robust content management system to manage and track content usage.

  • Developing and implementing a clear copyright policy that outlines what constitutes infringement to your material, the consequences for violating copyright laws, and the steps that will be taken to enforce copyright protection.

  • Staying up to date on changes to copyright laws and regulations.  

  • Encouraging consumers to use legitimate sources for accessing copyrighted content by offering convenient and affordable options.

  • Educating employees and partners about the importance of copyright protection and how to avoid risks.

  • Utilizing digital rights management (DRM) technology to control access to and usage of copyrighted content.

  • Conducting regular audits to detect and address potential risks.

  • Monitoring online channels for potential infringement and piracy activity, including social media, file-sharing sites, and streaming platforms.

  • Implementing watermarking or fingerprinting technologies to track and identify copyrighted content.

Piracy is widespread and quite convenient in the digital age, with over 80% of stolen and shared content viewed on streaming sites. Vigilance in protecting your material is critical.  

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