German Football League To Try Novel Antipiracy Strategy Of Actually Having Legal Alternatives For Its Content

from the whoa-whoa-whoa dept

Of all the antipiracy strategies on offer for the content industries, we've always promoted the having affordable, legal, and convenient alternatives as the best of them. As study after study after study has shown, one of the primary motivators for copyright infringement is a lack of reasonable access to the content legally. Why this is such a hard lesson to learn is anyone's guess.

The popular German football league, Bundesliga, recently, and finally, came to the conclusion that the first step in competing with piracy of its games is to, you know, actually compete with it. The post starts off by mentioning how many of the larger football/soccer leagues are looking at site-blocking as the best tool for combating piracy. Bundesliga, however, apparently only recently realized that no legal alternative for many fans exists.

While several big leagues in Europe would also like to have these kinds of blocking tools at their disposal, it’s blatantly obvious that they can’t compete with piracy if they aren’t offering customers what they want legally. It’s a sentiment shared by Arne Rees, executive vice president of strategy for Germany’s powerful Bundesliga.

“One of the best defenses against [piracy] is certainly having legal product everywhere,” Rees said, as cited by SportsVideo.org. “If a fan simply can’t get you, their mind-set is, I want to watch it, and, if only a pirated stream is available, they will justify that. At the very least. we have to create an environment where legal product competes with the illegal product. The legal product will always be the better product,” Rees added.

The legal ways for fans to get Bundesliga games today is through a complicated series of streaming services across 200 countries that are rife with blackout restrictions, blackouts of the most important matches, or in some cases full restrictions for accessing any games at all. None of this is convenient or done with ease, making the simple matter of finding an infringing stream of a game the superior option. In cases where literally no option is available for a game, the league isn't competing with piracy at all. It's not even attempting to.

It's resulting in sympathy even from some unlikely sources.

A report by Aftenposten last month detailed how fans were shut out of the key match between Everton and Manchester City so turned to pirate streams instead. Sarah Willand, Communications Director at TV 2, said the company understands the dilemma faced by fans.

“We would be happy to broadcast all the matches so that people see everything from the Premier League,” Willand said. “I therefore understand people’s frustration, it’s annoying not to be able to watch their favorite team on TV when you have a subscription.”

It should go without saying that sports leagues and their broadcast partners are in the business of serving their customers, not annoying them. All the scare tactics about how dangerous pirate streams are in terms of malware, or pleas centering around their illegality, aren't doing much to deter their use. What certainly would do the trick is making sure fans have affordable and convenient ways to access all the content they want, rather than playing some insane game of streaming russian roulette.

This, of course, is completely illegal and to some extent probably hurts the earning potential of the various leagues around Europe and their broadcasting partners. However, it’s clear that the companies involved have the power – if they so choose – to solve this problem by offering all content, to all people, wherever they are, at a fair price.

Given the tangle of licensing agreements across dozens of regions, this is much – much – more easily said than done, few people will argue with that. But the cold, hard truth is that most fans don’t care. If they can’t get matches legally (and particularly if they already have an underperforming subscription service), many will feel justified turning to the high seas.

It's true: fans don't want to hear that offering real alternatives is hard because the tangled web of licensing deals struck with broadcasters makes it so. It's time for leagues like Bundesliga to start serving fans what they want. And it's nice to see they're finally realizing it.

Filed Under: anti-piracy, competition, convenience, copyright, germany, legal alternatives, piracy
Companies: bundesliga


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  • identicon
    Pixelation, 12 Mar 2019 @ 11:02pm

    The AA's will hate them for being bad leeches.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 13 Mar 2019 @ 12:34am

    Can't lose what you never had, but you can gain it

    This, of course, is completely illegal and to some extent probably hurts the earning potential of the various leagues around Europe and their broadcasting partners.

    The idea that illegal streams in areas where there's no legal options somehow 'hurts earning potential' is rubbish. If you don't offer a legal option in an area copyright infringement costs you nothing, because there was never any chance for a legal sale, as there were no customers possible. It's not possible to hurt 'earning potentials' that were already at zero.

    If people are getting the stuff through illegal means however that's an indicator that there is a potential for sales in that area, and potential customers who want what you have to offer, and if it's offered on agreeable terms have the chance to become customers.

    If the lesson they took from this is 'people are willing to go out of their way for our stuff because there are no legal options, we should offer them some' then great, sounds like at least someone figured out the basic idea of using infringement as essentially free market research and is using it to their advantage, now if more companies would take that tact rather than losing their minds and breaking out the 'we must kill it by any means' response they might actually make some gorram money instead of constantly throwing it away.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Bergman (profile), 13 Mar 2019 @ 12:40am

      Re: Can't lose what you never had, but you can gain it

      Exactly. Free market research is the cheapest kind. And if you're refusing to fill a customer need in a market where you know there is demand, you deserve to lose that money.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2019 @ 12:47am

      Re: Can't lose what you never had, but you can gain it

      A pirate who is a potential sale is a thief, unless the content provider agrees to amnesty for anyone who signs up for X years. This should be the company's decision. Also, the pirates enrich themselves undeservedly, and stopping that is also in the public interest. They are literally cheating while legitimate customers play fair.

      Some cable companies used to waive a past balance to get a customer back. Some corporations are flexible.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 13 Mar 2019 @ 1:07am

        Re: Re: Can't lose what you never had, but you can gain it

        Which part of "people were literally unable to pay if they wanted to" was confusing to you?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2019 @ 3:15am

        Re: Re: Can't lose what you never had, but you can gain it

        They are literally cheating while legitimate customers play fair.

        So if you don't get something you pay for, despite having it promised as a part of the package you legitimately purchased under the fair trade assumption you would... willingly getting scammed by a company who plays "takes backsies" is playing fair? How would allowing a company to scam you motivate them to change their offerings when they know you'll stupidly keep overpaying them?

        I suppose your definition of "playing fair" also includes sitting in a burning building and refusing the rope ladder extended from a rescue helicopter, since you're being unfairly enriched by external forces you didn't pay for.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 13 Mar 2019 @ 3:33am

          Re: Re: Re: Can't lose what you never had, but you can gain it

          I'm waiting for his to describe which of these legitimate customers are "playing fair:", given that the entire point is that there cannot be legitimate customers to begin with...

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        kallethen, 13 Mar 2019 @ 5:33am

        Re: Re: Can't lose what you never had, but you can gain it

        A pirate who is a potential sale is a thief

        If there's no potential sale to begin with, then what?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2019 @ 6:43am

      Re: Can't lose what you never had, but you can gain it

      If the lesson they took from this is 'people are willing to go out of their way for our stuff

      What creative work has the German Football League done to claim ownership? It's minimal at best, which should raise the question of whether copyright is even appropriate.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Bergman (profile), 13 Mar 2019 @ 12:38am

    TL;DR

    Content providers make money by selling content, they make more money when they stop refusing to sell content to customers.

    Even shorter: Shut up and take my money!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2019 @ 12:45am

    By that logic, it would be fine to film and pirate Broadway shows that no one can otherwise attend. The "live experience" can "compete" with piracy.

    Piracy won't go away because of this, but Article 13 won't stop them from building this alternative. For that reason it's not "anti-piracy," more like "one less excuse to pirate content." Without that excuse, leftover pirates should be jailed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2019 @ 2:28am

      Re:

      And how would you find pirates?

      The technology that you insist allows you to sue the corpses of grandmothers who don't own computers? Or the magical human filtering you insist is more efficient than bots?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 13 Mar 2019 @ 2:32am

        Re: Re:

        Presumably just by telling everybody who uses the internet that they are pirates and just pay them regardless of what they actually do. The end game isn't "finding pirates", it's getting all the money they imagine they'd be paid if it were still 1987, facts be damned.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2019 @ 5:40am

      Re:

      Funny you should mention that idea, the Grateful Dead enabled bootlegs of their concerts by giving people a direct feed from the mixer. They figured out that a recording was not the same as being at a live performance in person, and the bootlegs created demand for tickets for their live events, and kept people who could not attend as fans. Any damage to record sales did not worry them, as those made money for the label, and not the band.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 13 Mar 2019 @ 8:11am

      Re:

      By that logic, it would be fine to film and pirate Broadway shows that no one can otherwise attend.

      No. By this logic, if people are already selling bootleg recordings of Broadway shows, it would make sense to sell higher quality professional recordings, since there's obviously a market for it. For example:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rent:_Filmed_Live_on_Broadway

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2019 @ 9:04am

      Re:

      Japan just gave up on its pirates-jailing law.

      Sucks to be you, doesn't it? Are you going to say their government is on the wrong side of history too? Or put in a snide jab about how impoverished their lobbying funds are?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    morganwick (profile), 13 Mar 2019 @ 3:55am

    Neither this article nor the linked one points to anything specific the Bundesliga is actually doing that they aren't already doing, other than recognizing that this is the way it is.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      kallethen, 13 Mar 2019 @ 5:31am

      Re:

      The first step to solving a problem is to identify it.

      Let's just hope there's some follow-through onto the rest of the problem-solving steps.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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