In this article, from my company’s experience I want you to show what damage some unscrupulous customers do to our company, and also show several methods of how to deal with pirates who steal your digital content. A few years ago, we installed the CRM system in order to communicate more transparently with our clients and better understand their needs. Along with this, we saw the accurate analytics of which countries our customers buy from, % of conversions, % of new customers and a large number of different metrics and correlations. After analyzing the number of piracy orders, and also after tracking where certain marked content appeared, we saw that the largest % of piracy comes from Russia. It is a Russian media artist, or rather, a video engineer, or some kind of IT character who has some demand for the video industry, who will engage in piracy.
Intellectual property has never been valued in Russian culture. From the very beginning of the RuNET, everything was stolen, at first the content was transferred on hard drives, then on internal FTPs and torrents, now through Telegram channels and cloud services… All of them steal. From fonts and pictures to footage and full Hollywood movies or Netflix series.
Cowardice, poverty, low morale, search for profit at the expense of others.
Since 2012, when we started selling our content, only 193 people have been our clients from the Russian Federation. This is less than 1% of the total number of our company’s clients. This is from 2012 till 2022. Approximately 40% of these clients began distributing our footage without the right to do so.
We managed to block about half of the sources of content distribution, and some companies paid a fine. In our analytics, Russia leads as the number one pirate country. And you don’t have to go far to think about Russia’s war in Ukraine, NATO or the collective West. Here’s an example for you. The example of our company over the past 10 years. When a large number of customers from the Russian Federation directly violate the use of the license agreement, steal our property.
At the same time, in Europe as well as in the United States, intellectual property, copyrights and the correct use of a license are highly valued. Clients write and once again worry, ask and clarify the terms of a license agreement. Which can not but please!
Because there is a high culture, giving importance to other people’s work and a well-thought-out legal system with heavy fines.
And no matter how Russian propaganda slings mud at the collective West, if you work in the creative content industry, you have more chances to protect your content from piracy in Western markets… Europe, North America, and even in some cases in Latin America.
Where do artists from the Russian Federation who work on microstocks sell their photos and videos? Do they have their own Russian photo stock? There is not! They all sell content to Western markets, while most of them believe their president’s words that Europe and America are so bad…
If you look in more detail at our analytics and the list of countries with the highest level of piracy,
the TOP-3 will look something like this:
Indeed, in developed countries we also see a large amount of fraud. But here we did not find exactly facts of distribution of our content without the license or piracy. Fraud is often used to download content for their own personal purposes…
What to do and how to fight?
I am sure that pirates will also read this article, so I do not want to reveal all the methods that we use in our company… I will write only about obviously open ones.
1. Write complaints to the copyright holders of sites, file hosting, etc. asking to block your content.
2. Write complaints to search and social networks to exclude the pages of such a site from the index or block such profile.
3. If you know what country your pirate is in, find a lawyer in that country and file a lawsuit. This process can be financially expensive, but the result can pay off well.
For customers who download content from pirate sites or buy content from pirates,
I can only say 3 things:
1. How do you know that the content you download is not marked in a certain way, and that it won’t be seen in the future?
2. How do you know that a pirate who sells you content will not eventually provide a court with information about his clients, phone numbers, emails, proof of payment… Since piracy is a criminal liability, for which a real prison term can be given. Are you sure your pirate won’t betray you to save his ass?
3. How do you know that the pirate who sells you content is actually a real thief, but not an elaborate process of “baiting” that was organized by content authors along with the cyber police? Even if it lasts 1-2 years, during which you occasionally buy content from a pirate more than once?
4. Why do you think that a content author will never know that you are using his content without a license? After all, if he finds out, a lawsuit will be filed against you, and you will be required to at least pay the cost of the license, and a fine in some cases.
Advice to all digital content creators and developers:
Create your *copy*. Make a fake account as if you’re a pirate. Collect a list of those unscrupulous customers who are ready to buy or bought your content through your kind of pirate account. And then sue them. It’ll turn out that they will buy your content twice. Just like a pirate, an for the second time – through the court. They will also pay a fine. And the court will add them to the register of offenders, which will stop the desire to do this for a long time. Play this game. I take bait. The percentage of unscrupulous customers will always be in any country. Now, as we see, Russia is leading in this. But the global market is large, and thank God, not all people have lost human values yet…
After all, what is content? It’s not just a digital product.
This is time, time multiplied by knowledge and feelings. Someone spent their time learning photoshop, cinema 4D… instead of spending time with their family, they worked, studied and worked again… Then they created a product, a business, a system, a value…
And someone is just stealing…
It’s low, it’s not fair, and there will be payback for this… If not immediately then later, but it will definitely be… Both according to the law and according to karma. Look what is happening with Russia now? And it will not be like that… And it’s all sad, though, I think they deserve it…
I think it’s time for VJs and VJ content developers to unite in the fight against this evil. I propose, through the methods of collective financing, to hire lawyers who will serve our class actions. After all, not only the content of our companies is stolen. We see the data that pirates distribute and what a great number of those media artists who were harmed by the actions of pirates and did not receive their profit..
If you are ready to make donations once a quarter, our company is ready to take over the organisation of this process, selection and payment of lawyers’ fees, creation of class actions, blocking of pirate accounts and websites. If you are interested, write to me. If there is a group of at least 10 people, we can start working. Naturally, the larger the number of people, the less each participant will need to pay.
It can’t help but amuse the fact that WE, VJs and developers of digital content, become the reasons for life and existence of those pirates…
Imagine these people are so cowardly that the only meaning of their life is piracy, which is based on your intellectual activity, on your creativity, on your ideas…. They spend their precious lifetime on it. Instead of going their own way, looking for their golden thread of Ariadne, they parasitize on you… You are the meaning for them. The meaning of their activity, their work, and, more importantly, their OPPORTUNITY to feed their children. You, as a content creator, a creator of meaning, are doing GOOD even in this format. They don’t. And life will punish them for this… And you will be rewarded with new ideas for content, new clients, new opportunities and ease of being…
Respecting other people’s work, buying content from its official copyright holders, you not only create an opportunity for greater and better development of the entire media art industry, but also create reasons why your services and products should be ordered from you, and treat you like a human being. Without stealing and with respect.
Collective counteraction to pirates can be more effective and cheaper if it is well organized.
I am grateful to all the people and our clients who send me information that someone is trying to distribute our content. Thanks to everyone
Alexander Kuiava, a new media artist, content producer, CEO of Austrian video production studio LIME ART GROUP
Author of self techniques for developing video projection shows and a teacher at the Frontskill School of New Media Art. Online entrepreneur and social investor. VJ in retirement.