Last week I visited both Jakarta and Malaysia to discuss antipiracy enforcement in general (what works and what doesn’t?) and, in particular, to discuss some of our research on the effectiveness of piracy website blocking. I spoke at two events surrounding World Intellectual Property Day.
The attendees at the public lecture in conjunction with World IP Day 2018 in Malaysia included many independent content producers.
One of the biggest takeaways for me from this trip was that some of the most interesting antipiracy enforcement questions are coming up in the Asia-Pacific areas and yet I have much less familiarity with the piracy and legitimate media landscapes in these countries, largely because data from the US and developed European countries has been so much more readily available. I did meet some folks from iflix (a subscription video service available in a number of Asia-Pacific countries) and hope to score some data for future work.
A few things I learned:
- When I visited the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (a government regulatory body that would probably best be compared to the FCC in the US) to give a lecture, the turnout was really high. From the number of government officials and industry professionals there and from the number of questions they asked and followup emails I received, I could tell there was a real interest in learning what would be the most efficient way to protect content rather than just a “fight piracy at all costs” attitude. The thoughtful discussion following the lecture made me wish I had more Malaysian data to look at issues particular to the region. Our UK research on the effect of piracy website blocking was helpful, but I got the sense they (rightly) thought the effects might still be positive but of a different magnitude in Malaysia, and that they would love to have some numbers so that they could weigh the costs and benefits of such actions.
- In Jakarta, website blocking appears to already be accepted policy. I spoke at a Digital Economy and Creative Content Forum and what struck me was that even though most of the talks were about piracy and digital distribution, so many of the attendees were film producers, screenwriters, etc. I had a number of conversations with these folks and what impressed me was how important it is to them that their content is protected. If one simply reads online forums, one might get the impression that the debate over piracy is largely about executives at large studios trying to secure even higher paychecks. That was not who I met in Jakarta. I met independent Indonesian film producers (producing films smaller than Hollywood by orders of magnitude) who felt that piracy was one of the biggest limiting factors in growing their national film industry. In the academic literature, there is a dearth of evidence as to whether piracy harms creative incentives or not. But among artists and creators working on indie films in Jakarta, it seemed an accepted fact. More and more I am thinking that piracy may not be reducing the number of Hollywood films we see but may be changing the nature of those films and may also be harming supply of films that target high-piracy cultures. Some early evidence on this here….
- It’s easy to forget when studying European countries or the US that availability of legal content may be an issue in other parts of the world. In Jakarta, when I suggested that positive effect we saw from piracy website blocking in the UK was likely achievable (or already being achieved) in Jakarta from their website blocking program, one individual brought up that there is a lot more content available on piracy channels than there is on the legal channels that Jakartans have access to. This is part because many Jakartans do not have credit cards and cannot sign up, and part because those that can are signing up to services that have less content than we are used to in the U.S. I took this as a reminder that policies making piracy less appealing/convenient are more effective when legal content is readily available through convenient legal channels.
- When ordering Nasi goreng in Jakarta, don’t ask for “mild spice” – ask for “no spice”. You’ll get a dish that’s about a 5/10 on the spicy scale, which is as low as it gets. But it’s delicious!
The attendees at the Digital Economy and Creative Content Forum in Jakarta included many independent content producers.
All in all it was a great trip, and I really think it’s important that researchers start conducting some of our work in these countries. The trick will be getting local data!
© Brett Danaher 2018. All Rights Reserved.
This article was first featured on Brett Danaher’s Blog: Anti-Piracy Enforcement in Malaysia and Jakarta