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Editorial: Preserve and Protect

Speaking of sock drawer tours, the Web boasts a wealth of video of real people doing interesting, and boring, things. It’s a cheap video content model, but you get what you pay for. That is not to diss YouTube or Periscope, but to suggest that as the Web video model begins to include more content with production values and story lines (and sets and salaries), the need to protect that content from being illegally distributed—and for Web surfers to understand that stealing that content, is, well, stealing—grows.

Digital Citizens Alliance and Media-Link’s new report Good Money Still Going Bad, which looks at ad-supported sites offering stolen TV shows and fi lms, found that advertising ran beside pirated content to the tune of a couple hundred million dollars in 2014.

The good news was the total was down slightly from the ’13, from $227 million to $209 million. The bad news was that, given that a large portion (four of 10) of the sites identified in the previous thefts had been shuttered or shrunken, the pirates were on the rebound.

“What this report shows is that content theft sites can make something while creating nothing,” DCA executive director Tom Galvin said in releasing the latest findings. “Despite the intensified efforts of law enforcement and private industry, the content thieves had another banner year, and that’s bad news for content creators and consumers.”

The only way that high-value content like Mad Men, Empire and House of Cards can continue to be made with production values that can drive over-the-top video as a competitor to traditional delivery systems is if that content can be protected online. Otherwise, the Web business mode becomes one long cat video.

Advertisers need to redouble their efforts to ensure that their clients’ money is not going to support online content theft.