“Pirate Snitch” Campaign Not Perfect Amid a Cost of Living Crisis, According to the UK Government 

After reviewing hundreds of pages worth of copyright papers, anti-piracy studies, lobbying materials, and presentations to government and law enforcement organisations, anything that deviates from the usual has a tendency to stick out.

A paper titled “Taking a Whole Society Approach to Infringement in the UK” was released by the Industry Trust For IP the month before last. This research encouraged “partnership” and “understanding” as means to lessen the amount of piracy that occurs in the UK.

In the first piece we published, we zeroed in on just one particular aspect of the study; yet, a far more basic theme emerged. A delightful surprise, even.

A Friendlier and More Collaborative Tone

There is no such thing as a benevolent anti-piracy report because the subject matter automatically excludes that possibility; yet, the wording and tone of the paper that was produced by the Industry Trust is remarkably similar. It seems a little strange that they would say that given the fact that some of the firms backing the Industry Trust include Sony, Universal, Disney, and Warner, not to mention Sky, Premier League, and the Federation Against Copyright Theft.

There is a recurrence of familiar motifs, such as demands that technological platforms perform more actions and that hosts apply “Know Your Customer” regulations to assist in the identification of pirates. However, forceful language such as “must be required to implement X” and “should be prevented from doing Y” is largely being replaced by scenarios in which various entities “could” be a real help if they did A, B, or C. This is the case because these scenarios are more likely to result in a positive outcome.

Authorities in the UK should modernise the existing policy framework by incorporating due diligence procedures for intermediaries that provide internet enterprises with commercial services.

  1. The improvement of consumer identification and verification is one way that technology businesses may lend their help to law enforcement activities.
  2. Technology businesses might use technical measures that create more obstacles and make it more difficult to breach intellectual property rights.

This kind of language and tone unquestionably matches the general tenor of a campaign that involves collaboration, but it is also odd enough to merit a deeper study.

The government appears to have arrived at the conclusion that forceful message against online piracy may “seem at odds” with the “cooperative tone” that it thinks “advisable in communications this year.” Whether or if this was only a coincidence, it is possible that this was the case.

It is difficult to determine if the most recent report from the Industry Trust should be seen as the outcome of advice given by the government or as independently prudent, but these topics are now being discussed at the government level.

Possibilities for “Behavior Change” are Being Assessed by the UK Government

The “Online Copyright Infringement Tracker” maintained by the Intellectual Property Office is an annual study that investigates the most recent tendencies in copyright infringement. The most current study, titled “Wave 12,” covers consumption patterns in 2022 and is as thorough as previous ones have been. Nevertheless, it also contains some information that was previously ignored.

The yearly survey has several objectives, one of which is to discover chances for “behaviour modification.” According to the government, this goal was accomplished in 2022 by use of something called a “Internet Community,” which consisted of a week-long internet-based sequence of guided activities in which members engaged with one other and discussion moderators.

Participants in the community were given with past and hypothetical advertisements, some tied to piracy and some not, in order to analyse “attitudes towards infringement and behaviour modification efforts.”

The government investigated the possibility of launching a “Snitch” anti-piracy campaign.

The government does not use the word’snitch’ or the British equivalent of the word, which is ‘grass,’ since it is unmoved by the colloquialisms of the people. When referring to civilians reporting other citizens to the authorities for suspected violations of the law, the word “report” is used instead.

The questions that were offered to the so-called “Internet Community” are not stated in the report; nonetheless, to be direct, the first question that appears to have been asked was “Did you know you could snitch on a neighbour or family member for piracy?” As it turns out, the vast majority of individuals were not aware that they could.

“Within the community, many individuals stated that they were unaware of the fact that they could report others for intellectual property (IP) violation. According to the findings of the survey, participants’ responses indicated that they did not believe the information to be well known.

“It was not seen as something that necessarily concerned participants because many believed that others they knew also accessed content in this manner or that no one would realistically have reason to report them,” which translates to “it was not seen as something that necessarily concerned participants.”

The British do not perceive any advantages.

When asked if they would report someone for infringing on their intellectual property rights, the majority of respondents answered that they would not and provided a variety of explanations for their decision. The research went on to list the three primary explanations as follows:

  • There would be no advantage to them in making a complaint about another person.

If they used unauthorised sources themselves, it would make them appear hypocritical, and there is a risk that they may be the target of retaliatory behaviour.

  • The police have larger issues to be dealing with than Internet crime

Although these results are totally predicted, the questions that led to them highlight the disparity between how “ordinary” people have a tendency to think and how the government thinks people think.

People Will Start Asking Questions

As the first response indicates, individuals are often driven by some type of reward. In its current form, the plan appears to require performing anti-piracy labour for free. To put this into practical words, please fill out a form on our brand new website and tell us all you know, but we are unable to guarantee that we will get back to you. A lack of a feedback system or an obviously beneficial outcome is not a particularly effective motivator.

The second response is self-explanatory; those who live in houses made of glass shouldn’t be so quick to cast stones because it’s possible that their own windows may need to be replaced in the not-too-distant future. In terms of strategies for providing motivated feedback, the response could not be more unfavourable.

Regarding response number three, the idea that law enforcement agencies have resources to combat internet piracy but almost none to combat home invasions or vehicle thefts is not likely to be well welcomed. It would be remarkable to ask members of the public to make matters worse for themselves by providing information about persons they truly know.

But, when presented in a slightly different perspective, members of the so-called “Internet Community” expressed more enthusiasm for the proposition.

Deterrent Messaging

When asked whether they would consider including the idea that someone may report another individual into a campaign, the issue of deterrent messaging was considered as a plus by the Online Community, according to the survey conducted by the government.

According to the findings of the research, “[s]ome believed this may be an opportunity since it would prevent some people who were considering of infringing for the first time or were apprehensive about it.”

The important thing to consider is whether or not any of these things will be used in a campaign in the future. The question of whether or not the government would be willing to be the “face” of this sort of marketing or if those in the background who stand to profit have sufficient self-assurance to put their own brands on the line is an even more important one.

Possible Prospects, but Not Currently Available

At the very least for the time being, it is probable that the year 2023 will come and go without any significant changes. Despite the favourable input on possible deterrent message, the administration does not appear to be enthusiastic about this sort of advertising in the present atmosphere.

“Yet, it would be worthwhile to consider the cooperative tone which is advisable in communications this year given the current circumstances and whether such a message would seem at odds with this ethos,” the government added in a calming, non-confrontational tone. “Yet, it would be worthwhile to consider the cooperative tone which is advisable in communications this year given the current circumstances.”

During the lockdown, residents of the United Kingdom were urged to report their neighbours to the authorities if they were in violation of the social distance regulations. The police were not fond of the concept, despite the fact that doing so would have constituted a criminal offence. Even though the general public did not know, there were still hundreds of thousands of people who reported their neighbours to the police.






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