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Video piracy in the 21st century

A few days ago I was watching a Magnum PI episode where Higgins had a film camera pointed at the television screen to record a game of snooker broadcast from “half way around the world” by satellite.  Today I noticed this article speaking of the way in which twitter’s Periscope app and Meerkat were used to pirate a fight.

Piracy is nothing new but the simplicity with which people can pirate and share content has evolved. Piracy required rolls of films at first. These rolls had to be developed and then copies had to be made. This could take several days. VHS came along and made it easier. With several VHS decks you could make several copies at once. Steve Jobs is well known for the boot leg tapes he had of music concerts. My generation streamed live music concerts using mobile phones. Football enthusiasts used satellite receivers and streaming software to re-distribute live football matches years ago. This is true both for european Football and American football.

The live streaming of broadcast content is now so simple that multiple people, using social media, redistribute content as it happens. There is no lag time. There is no exclusivity possible. PeriscopeTV and Meerkat have made it very simple to share live events circumventing the gate keepers.

Gate keepers provide the highest audio and video quality possible for their customers and for this reason they are safe for now. The pirated copy has low video and audio quality and is filmed by a mobile phone camera. Social networks such as Twitter and sporting organisations will need to strengthen their collaboration. Both of them can and will benefit from joining forces. If PeriscopeTV and Meerkat both get paid by the Fight promoters to carry the signal as premium content then the pirate streams will be of less interest. Price will have to reflect the platform on which content is being shared of course.