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Anti-piracy ad that claimed ‘you wouldn’t steal a car’ made people pirate MORE, study reveals 

Anyone who owned a DVD player in the mid-2000s will remember being told “You wouldn’t steal a car” before seeing Shrek 2 on their TV.

The iconic distorted guitar music and flickering graphics kept the anti-piracy ad stuck in viewers’ minds for the next year – but not for the right reasons.

The overly dramatic campaign created in 2004 by the film industry, warning people that downloading illegal movies is a crime, was widely mocked and parodied.

And, according to a new study, these kinds of public service announcements (PSAs) actually encouraged people to pirate more than they otherwise would.

The authors, from the ESSCA School of Management in Lyon, France, claim that by educating people about how widespread piracy is, the ads allowed them to rationalize the crime.

They also reduced the impact of the message by comparing piracy to much more serious crimes, such as stealing handbags and cars.

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In fact, anti-piracy public service announcements (PSAs) encouraged people to illegally download content more than they otherwise would, according to a new study.

Advertisements compared piracy to serious crimes such as car theft or burglary, dramatizing the consequences as movie theaters go bankrupt

By overloading it with these different arguments of varying strengths, the researchers claim that the producers

Advertisements compared piracy to serious crimes such as car theft or burglary, and dramatized the consequences of movie theaters going bankrupt. By overloading it with these different arguments of varying strengths, the researchers claim that the producers “watered down the message”

WHAT DOES THE ‘YOU WOULD NOT STEAL A CAR’ BE WRONG WITH?

  • Absurd Equations – Piracy is equated with serious crimes such as burglary and vehicle theft, reducing its impact.
  • Informs viewers that piracy is commonplace – It lets them know that other people are doing it, which is an effective motivator according to behavioral psychology.
  • Shown in cinemas – By playing it for paying customers, it opens them up to the idea of ​​piracy in the future.

Online piracy is defined as downloading and distributing copyrighted content – such as movies, music and software – without the permission of the owner.

The “You wouldn’t steal a car” ad was produced by the Federation Against Copyright Theft and the Motion Picture Association of America to discourage copyright infringement.

But by 2009, more than 100 parodies had already been made, including in the popular British sitcom ‘The IT Crowd’.

The newspaper, published last month in The information societyanalyzes these and other anti-piracy campaigns and uses behavioral economics to discover where they went wrong.

The researchers found that producers tend to overload the ads with negative consequences of piracy.

These range from images reminiscent of movie theaters and actors going bankrupt, to relatively minor consequences such as malware or low-quality content.

In addition, they compare video piracy to serious crimes such as car theft or burglary.

By overloading the ad with all these different arguments of varying strengths, the authors claim that the producers “watered down the message.”

The researchers also found that some campaigns tend to use statistics to get their message across, such as the site checker “Get It Right From a Genuine Site.”

It reads: ‘The UK’s creative industries support around 2.8 million jobs in the UK each year, contribute around £18 billion to exports around the world and contribute around £10 million per hour to the British economy.’

They claim this has no effect because the numbers are not put into context.

Studies in behavioral psychology have shown that people identify more with a problem when they feel a personal connection to it.

The paper also refers to an Indian campaign where famous, multi-millionaire Bollywood actors asked ordinary people not to download movies illegally.

They said: ‘This can give pirates a moral justification: they only steal’ [from] the rich to “feed the poor”.’

The authors, from the ESSCA School of Management in Lyon, France, claim that the ads inform viewers about how widespread the crime is, so rationalize it for would-be criminals

The authors, from the ESSCA School of Management in Lyon, France, claim that the ads inform viewers about how widespread the crime is, so rationalize it for would-be criminals

The researchers also found that some campaigns tend to use statistics to get their message across, such as the site checker

The researchers also found that some campaigns tend to use statistics to get their message across, such as the site checker “Get It Right From a Genuine Site.” They claim this has no impact as the numbers are not put into context

These PSAs can also encourage piracy by inadvertently bringing the idea into the minds of movie buffs and informing them that other people are doing it.

Behavioral research has shown that we tend to follow the ‘descriptive standard’ of what others do, rather than the ‘mandatory standard’ of what is frowned upon by the law.

The researchers wrote: ‘Informing individuals directly or indirectly that many people are pirates is counterproductive and encourages piracy by encouraging the targeted individuals to behave in the same way.

“These messages provide the potential pirates with the necessary rationalization by emphasizing that ‘everyone is doing it’.

The language they use also seems to facilitate “the moral withdrawal of offenders, who do not consider themselves thieves.”

Phrases such as ‘file sharing’ and ‘fighting the system’ suggest that piracy does not deprive the owner of property and therefore does not equate to theft.

The behavioral economists conclude that organizations should take these human biases into account when designing their campaigns.

It is also recommended not to run the ads in movie theaters, where paying customers are informed about the widespread piracy and may encourage them to do so.

Hindi-language film star Ranbir Kapoor has an estimated net worth of £35 million ($43 million), and appeared in an Indian advertisement encouraging ordinary people not to download movies illegally.  The authors argued that this inadvertently provides a 'moral justification' for 'stealing' [from] the rich'

Hindi-language film star Ranbir Kapoor has an estimated net worth of £35 million ($43 million), and appeared in an Indian advertisement encouraging ordinary people not to download movies illegally. The authors argued that this inadvertently provides a ‘moral justification’ for ‘stealing’ [from] the rich’

Illegal streaming of shows like Game of Thrones is a ‘win-win-win’ situation for everyone, scientists say

Piracy benefits both TV show makers and the viewer who breaks the law, scientists have found.

Research has found that it prevents retailers and TV bosses from raising prices for premium shows, such as HBO’s Game of Thrones.

Illegal downloading benefits customers as retailers and production companies cannot charge high prices for fear of losing more viewers to illegal streams.

Piracy also benefits TV providers and showmakers alike, as it stops either one from monopolizing the product and charging excessive fees.

The survey called a moderate level of piracy a “win-win-win” situation and TV bosses would “turn a blind eye.”

Read more here

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