The Business Part of Business

Netflix Eliminates Piracy (yes, seriously)

Media Piracy is big business. SERIOUSLY big business. Even today, with video stores all but gone and many people having moved past DVD players to streaming, you’ll find guys setting up on blankets covered in DVDs in populated urban areas. Look at all those cheap titles! They might even work!

So where does the idea Netflix Eliminates Piracy come from?

This week, Netflix introduced the ability to download movies and TV programs to your phone or tablet to watch offline. It’s not available for all of the media at Netflix, and the idea of even being offline is shifting. Still, it’s a welcome feature.

Exactly how it really works is up in the air; for example, when might downloaded media disappear unexpectedly? But in testing Netflix downloads so far I can say that it works pretty well. But now that I have Netflix content stored on my device, haven’t I become a piracy risk?

In short, no. The files are stored in a format that makes watching them anywhere but on the device you used to download them impractical—if not impossible. Cancel your Netflix subscription and they won’t work. And when I went so far as to uninstall Netflix from my phone and reinstall it the media I’d downloaded was deleted.

None of which is a terribly interesting business story until we reintroduce the Netflix eliminates piracy idea—and why that’s a big deal.

Netflix Eliminates Piracy

One of the many things we handle for our clients is the management of their intellectual property. IP is a topic I’ve been fascinated by for decades and written about here as far back as 2010 when Pink Floyd slapped around their former record label. But ownership and copyrights aside, Intellectual Property is really about private enforcement more than public law.

Besides greed, piracy is driven by one main element: some people are short on disposable income. Some folks just like challenges, too, but that becomes fringy-er as the greed element fades. As Netflix becomes all but ubiquitous, there’s very little incentive to pirate the content it deliversand with the “I can’t take it with me” element eliminated that only becomes truer.

And Netflix is only the largest streaming media service; there are many others. Amazon made downloads possible some time ago. Allowing downloads simply makes sense.

Rich venture capitalists will soon have no need to be personal media pirates. Neil Young’s words about music piracy have never been truer. Movie studios will continue to find new ways to make money. None of that is bad. What’s best, though, is that by eliminating the need for piracy, Netflix eliminates piracy altogether—or at least takes a big step in that direction.

Want to talk about Intellectual Property and your business?