Anyone with a DVD player in the mid-2000s remembers being told “You wouldn’t steal a car” before watching Shrek 2 on TV.
The famous garbled guitar music and flickering graphics meant anti-piracy ads stuck in viewers’ minds for years to come, but for the wrong reasons.
Created by the film industry in 2004, an overdramatic campaign warns people that downloading pirated films is a crimewere widely ridiculed and parodied.
And, according to new research, social media ads (PSAs) actually encourage people to piracy more than they might otherwise.
The authors from the ESSCA School of Management in Lyon, France argue that by informing people about the prevalence of piracy, advertising 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 bags and cars.
Anti-Piracy Public Announcements (PSAs) actually encouraged people to illegally download content more than they otherwise might, according to a new study.
The ads compared piracy to serious crimes such as vehicle theft or burglary, and dramatized the consequences such as the bankruptcy of movie theaters. The researchers argue that by overloading it with these various arguments of varying strength, the producers “diluted the message”.
What is the error in the ad “You wouldn’t steal a car”
- Absurd comparisons – It equates piracy with serious crimes such as burglary and vehicle theft, which reduces its impact.
- Informs viewers that piracy is common – It lets them know that other people are doing the same thing, which behavioral psychology says is an effective motivator.
- Shown in cinemas – By playing it for paying customers, he opens up to them the idea of piracy in the future.
Internet piracy is defined as the practice of 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 released by the Copyright Theft Federation and the Motion Picture Association of America to discourage copyright infringement.
But by 2009, over 100 parodies had been made, including one of the popular British sitcom The Geeks.
Newspaper published last month in Information societyanalyzes this and other anti-piracy campaigns using behavioral economics to find out where they went wrong.
The researchers found that manufacturers tend to overload ads with the negative effects of piracy.
These range from images reminiscent of movie theaters and actors going bankrupt to relatively minor ramifications such as malware or low-quality content.
In addition, they compare video piracy to serious crimes such as car theft or burglary.
The authors argue that by overloading the ad with all these different arguments of varying strength, the producers “diluted the message”.
The researchers also found that some campaigns tend to use statistics to spread their message, such as in the Get It Right From Genuine Site verification program.
It states: “The UK creative industry supports around 2.8 million UK jobs each year, contributes around £18bn in exports worldwide and contributes around £10m an hour to the UK economy.”
They argue that it doesn’t matter, as the numbers don’t count in context.
Behavioral psychology research has shown that people are more likely to identify with a problem if they feel a personal connection to it.
The newspaper also refers to an Indian campaign in which famous Bollywood multi-millionaire actors asked ordinary people not to download films illegally.
They said, “This may give the pirates a moral justification: they only steal [from] rich to feed the poor.
The authors from the ESSCA School of Management in Lyon, France argue that ads inform viewers about how widespread a crime is, so rationalize it for potential criminals.
The researchers also found that some campaigns tend to use statistics to spread their message, such as in the Get It Right From Genuine Site verification program. They argue that this has no effect because the numbers don’t count in context.
These social videos can also encourage piracy by inadvertently planting the idea in the minds of film enthusiasts and informing them that other people are doing it.
Behavioral Research showed that we tend to follow a “descriptive standard” for what others do rather than a “prescriptive standard” for what the law disapproves of.
The researchers wrote: “Directly or indirectly informing people that many people are pirating is counterproductive and encourages piracy by making the targeted individuals behave in a similar way.
“These messages give would-be pirates the rationale they need, emphasizing that ‘everyone does it.
The language they use also appears to “contribute to the moral distancing of offenders who do not see themselves as thieves.”
Phrases such as “file sharing” and “fighting the system” suggest that piracy does not dispossess the owner and is therefore tantamount to theft.
Behavioral economists have come to the conclusion that organizations need to consider these human biases when designing their campaigns.
It is also recommended that ads not be shown in cinemas, where paying customers would be informed of how widespread piracy is and potentially encourage them to do so.
Hindi-speaking movie star Ranbir Kapoor is valued at ₹35 million (US$43 million) and appeared in an Indian advertisement urging ordinary people not to download films illegally. The authors argued that this inadvertently provides a “moral justification” for “stealing [from] rich’
Scholars argue that illegally broadcasting shows like Game of Thrones is a win-win situation for everyone.
Scientists have found that piracy benefits both TV show creators and law-breaking viewers.
Research has shown that this prevents retailers and TV bosses from raising prices on premium shows like HBO’s Game of Thrones.
Illegal downloading benefits customers as retailers and production companies will not be able to charge high prices for fear of losing more viewers to illegal broadcasts.
Piracy also benefits both TV providers and show creators, as it prevents either of them from monopolizing the product and charging excessive fees.
The study called moderate levels of piracy a win-win situation and TV bosses should “turn a blind eye”.