Piracy: Everybody Does It; Everything Should Be Free


Pirates are in it for the free stuff, and there are plenty of them: That’s the gist of a new PricewaterhouseCoopers study of consumer attitudes toward piracy. The study asked some 202 self-described pirates about their behavior and the reasons for it. At the top of the list was the fact that pirated content doesn’t actually cost anything.

Respondents signaled some willingness to pay, but not much — and the vast majority said that they’re going to continue to hunt for free loot. However, people don’t seem to mind ads, so the Hulu model might actually working to curb piracy.

Streaming clearly dominates video piracy, with 82 percent of respondents saying that they get their TV fare as streams, and 69 percent streaming pirated movies online, while 62 percent admitted to downloading TV show episodes, and 52 percent do so with movie titles.

So what makes them pirate? For 69 percent, the content being free was a deciding factor; 68 percent said DVDs are too expensive; and 58 percent believe that digital downloads are also too pricey. And if that wasn’t bad enough news for Hollywood, consider this: 54 percent “felt that everyone was doing it,” and 57 percent actually had a friend or family member recommend unlicensed content.

Of course, this isn’t statistical proof that everyone actually is pirating content, but this kind of perception may well become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If everyone believes that everyone is doing it, then everyone may as well be doing it themselves.

And there’s little that could get people to abandon piracy: 81 percent said that they’re likely going to continue to get their video fix for free. People signaled some willingness to pay for movies if they had access to it right after it came out in the theaters, but even then, 45 percent said they’d pay less than a dollar to stream a movie. That’s not exactly what Hollywood has in mind with its new premium VOD plans.

The only thing that seems to be working to get people back to legitimate offerings is pricing them at zero; 58 percent responded that they’d frequent free, ad-supported websites. Thirty-four percent were open to subscription-based offerings like Netflix, but only nine percent want to pay iTunes or Amazon for each and every movie or TV show episode.

You’d probably be hard-pressed to find many people in Hollywood happy with these kinds of findings, but the PwC survey comes as a validation to Hulu’s approach, which has been questioned lately. Offering ad-supported content seems to be working as a piracy deterrent, and adding a subscription-based offering to the fold may actually have helped Hulu to tap into that one-third willing to open their wallets.

Image courtesy of (CC-BY-SA) Flickr user richardmasoner.

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