According to a report by Norwegian researchers at Ipsos, piracy has fallen alarmingly in that country thanks to viable alternative sources. For example, music piracy has fallen from 1.2 billion songs in 2008 to 210 million last year. About 60 million movies and TV shows were pirated last year, compared to 125 million and 135 million five years ago. In short, access to paid content, whether via streaming or a la carte services, is slowly whittling away the impetus to pirate.
To be clear this data comes from Norway and may not be representative of all areas but given the popularity of services like Spotify, Rdio, and Netflix – not to mention the many platform-specific releases made available on each of these services – has done what Hollywood couldn’t.
Norway has led the charge against file-sharing sites, recently passing a law that can shut down sites at the ISP level and allows rights holders to go after copyright offenders. However, it seems it’s a case of “Too much, too late.” The laws coincide with some of the lowest levels of piracy in the country which, in the twisted logic of the MPAA, will be chalked up to strong laws and not to the success of stable, usable, and preferable alternatives to piracy.
As Gabe Newell of Valve said “We think there is a fundamental misconception about piracy. Piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem.” If a product is available in staggered intervals or is completely unavailable or at a particularly onerous price differential, the impetus to pirate is far greater. When everything is easily available one click away it is a far more interesting market and far better for the producer and the consumer.