It’s easy to blame this on the movement restrictions caused by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic. A new survey showed that the Philippines is high in terms of online piracy.
But, wait. Wasn’t online piracy – copying or downloading of movies, music and other creatives in violation of the rights of copyright owners – already prevalent even pre-pandemic?
The survey result didn’t say except that the period when the study was done was in September 2020 when quarantine orders were still in effect, classes in public schools were not yet open and workers continued to work from home. The survey report didn’t mention the pandemic as cause for the country’s high ranking in online piracy or if there was an increase in this illegal practice at that time, but the finding should open our eyes to the destructive effects and determine what action to take.
The survey showed that nearly half or 49 percent of online Filipinos admit to using streaming piracy websites or torrent sites. This places the Philippines among the highest in online piracy in Southeast Asia.
According to a survey commissioned by the Asia Video Industry Association’s Coalition Against Piracy and conducted by YouGov, the levels of piracy went as high as 53 percent within the 25-34 age demographic. It also said 47 percent of consumers who accessed piracy sites canceled their subscriptions to both local and international content services. YouGov, an international research and data analytics group, conducted the survey in September 2020 with a sample size in the Philippines of 1,098.
A press statement on the survey results said the level of piracy in the Philippines now dwarfs neighboring Malaysia and Indonesia which have both seen substantial reductions in online piracy over the last 12 months. In Indonesia, a similar YouGov survey found a massive 55 percent reduction in Indonesians accessing piracy services with 28 percent of consumers admitting to accessing piracy websites compared to 63 percent in 2019. In Malaysia, a YouGov survey found a 64 percent decline in users accessing piracy sites when compared to a similar YouGov survey in 2019. The report unfortunately did not give a comparison of online piracy levels in the Philippines, pre-pandemic.
Why is it important to stop online piracy? Survey respondents themselves know the consequences of online piracy, such as, funding in a way crime groups, loss of jobs in the creative industry and malware risks.
Government action to block piracy websites would be most effective to combat this. Also, the pandemic has led artists and authors to be generous with their work. Free shows and downloads of otherwise expensive and hard-to-access performances have been made available on online platforms. Paid services of Netflix and Spotify have become accessible and the costs shareable with family and friends.
There are ways to keep your online consumption within legal parameters. Don’t blame the pandemic for turning you into an online pirate.