Deputy head of the Creative Economy Agency (Bekraf) for Intellectual Property Rights Facilitation and Regulation
Many may disagree with this title. Illegal copies of local and international films, television shows and songs can still be downloaded or streamed through various websites and apps. Millions of pirated copies of the same copyrighted content are available in a number of malls and traditional markets. You can even find current movies being streamed live from inside a cinema through social media.
Yes, online piracy is prevalent and remains a cause for concern, but we are making progress. How? Through consistent enforcement, commitment and collaborative efforts.
Since 2015, an interagency antipiracy task force within the government has shut down 392 illegal film websites that distribute or stream pirated content. By the end of 2017, the music industry said around two-thirds of the websites they had reported for infringing on their copyrighted material were already inactive.
To put the significance of these numbers in context, the same statistics were cited by the International Intellectual Property Alliance, an organization of United States creative industries, in its 2018 report on Indonesia, which notes how the government’s “enforcement has been promising, with excellent compliance by the seven largest ISPs”.
While the people behind these websites can just hop to a new domain and carry on their illicit business, we are in fact making a dent in their operations by going after where it hurts: the bottom line.
Online pirates earn from online advertisements, but every time their websites are shut down, the new sites they create will have lower page rankings, which will then reduce the amount of revenue they can
We are also going directly to advertisers. Last October, an Infringing Website List was launched by several industry associations — the Association of Indonesian Film Producers (APROFI), the Indonesia Recording Industry Association (ASIRI), the Motion Picture Association (MPA) and the Association of Indonesian Advertising Agencies (P3I) — with the support of the Creative Economy Agency (Bekraf), to make companies aware of which sites they should not place ads on.
We are also working with Google and Facebook, which have been cooperative in taking down pirated materials. YouTube, for instance, is very active on this front.
Soon, the fight against these online pirates will be aided by technology that allows us to track them down, putting an end to the cat-and-mouse game. The Communications and Information Ministry to take down online sources of pornographic content and hoaxes, and it will soon use it to fight against online pirates.
On the ground, we are working with theaters to curb the practice of illegal live streaming of films through social media, and they have committed to taking immediate action once violators are found.
We have also asked them to install CCTVs to improve detection. As long as there is a complaint from the owner of the film rights against entities who live stream for commercial purposes, the government can take legal action.
Though much of the focus now is now on online piracy, we are not ignoring the proliferation of pirated DVDs across the country. We are communicating with local governments to encourage them to exercise their authority to penalize or even shut down shopping malls or centers that allow the sale of pirated goods, and we have been receiving positive responses.
Consistent enforcement, commitment and collaborative efforts have proven to help us win battles against online piracy. But that’s just one of the fronts in this war.
Cutting off supply is never enough to kill the market for illegal products; the demand side has to be addressed.
When it comes to creative content like films, television shows and music, demand for pirated copies exist because of three things: price, distribution and habit. Therefore, strategies to fight piracy should address these aspects.
The increasing availability of streaming websites and the cooperation of internet service providers help address two of the three issues: price and distribution. If we make content more affordable and easily accessible, we have seen consumers tend to shift to legal sources.
Offline, one way to address the demand side is to convince content producers to reduce prices or diversify their products for different markets.
At the same time, we are pushing for the use of the collective management organization to more efficiently collect royalties from companies that use copyrighted materials. This way, we help diversify the revenue sources of content companies.
The third aspect, habit, would take longer to address. Instead of trying to break the habits of older people, we are focusing our efforts on educating our children to make sure these illegal habits don’t form to begin with.
We realize that many in the public still fail to fully grasp the harm that piracy does. Indonesian filmmakers lose more than Rp 4 billion (US$290,000) for each film that gets pirated.
Indonesia’s recording industry loses up to Rp 14 trillion a year from the illegal downloading of songs.
But we cannot develop our creative industry and support our local artists if we can’t find a way to protect their work.
We cannot win this fight overnight, or even over a few years. But through consistent enforcement, commitment and collaborative efforts, we will win battles and gain ground.
Online piracy may never fully be eliminated. But diminishing itr presence enough to the point where the practice doesn’t hurt legitimate businesses is already a significant victory.
The writer is deputy head of the Creative Economy Agency (Bekraf) for Intellectual Property Rights Facilitation and Regulation. On May 3 Bekraf will co-host a seminar in observance of the World Intellectual Property Rights Day.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.