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Donald Trump promises swift action on piracy

By | Published on Thursday 8 March 2018

Donald Trump

Donald Trump has said that “the US is acting swiftly on intellectual property theft”, hinting at a pending announcement on copyright matters. We know this, of course, via Twitter. Yesterday the President tweeted: “The US is acting swiftly on Intellectual Property theft. We cannot allow this to happen as it has for many years!”

What exactly he meant by this isn’t clear, although the tweet did coincide with a US Congress debate on hacked smart TV set-top boxes. Boxes and dongles that provide unofficial free access to paid streaming content and channels have been a growing concern for the TV industry in recent years. As a former TV personality and fan of TV, it is entirely possible that it was this that Trump was referring to, so his intervention will be more about telly IP than music.

Yesterday’s event (which Trump did not attend), titled ‘Unboxing The Piracy Threat Of Streaming Media Boxes’, was hosted by a think tank called the Information Technology And Innovation Foundation. During the discussion, the Center For The Protection Of Intellectual Property’s Kevin Madigan told the panel: “Torrent-based content is becoming obsolete in an on-demand digital environment. Instead, there is a shift to streaming-based piracy”.

This is a trend also beginning to emerge in the music industry, as Andy Chatterly, CEO of anti-piracy company MUSO, told CMU’s Chris Cooke at this year’s Slush Music in Helsinki. “Our figures show that 40.3% took place on illegal streaming services”, he said. “Which means that audience behaviour in piracy is mimicking audience behaviour in the legitimate digital music market, ie we are seeing a shift from downloads to streams, and from ownership to access”.

Although hacked streaming boxes are often sold domestically, one issue in combatting this in the US and the UK is that the actual piracy services they connect to often operate outside their jurisdictions. This is one purpose of the US Trade Representative’s annual ‘notorious markets’ report, which identifies notable sources of piracy globally and urges other governments elsewhere in the world to act. The EU has said that it plans to launch a similar piracy gripe list.

On possible solutions to the smart TV piracy problem, Madigan said yesterday: “To combat piracy abroad, USTR needs to work with the creative industries to improve enforcement and target the source of pirated material”.

That does sound pretty much like what’s already being done, so if that’s Trump’s big plan I’m not sure we should get particularly excited.