Here’s a fresh approach: Monitor the piracy of
your content with an eye toward possibilities for new markets, formats, or
By Apryl Motley
thoughts of potential products and possibilities for expanding their audiences
are not foremost in the minds of association publishers when they consider the
challenges associated with piracy.
However, during his
session at the Association Media & Publishing Annual Meeting ("Should You
Be Worried about Content Piracy?”), Brian O’Leary, founder and principal of
Magellan Media and a member of the Association Media & Publishing board of
directors, suggested that attendees think about these challenges a little
As the availability of
content online has grown, so have opportunities for members and nonmembers to
copy and distribute it without the publisher’s permission. "In publishing, the
concept of free content is not new,” O’Leary says. "The issue is that with
digital sampling on the rise, publishers have less control of what’s free.”
is one option association publishers have for dealing with piracy. For example,
they are well within their rights to ask hosts to take unauthorized content off
believes association publishers have another, possibly more beneficial, option
as well: the innovation that may come from studying more carefully which
content is being pirated and why. He made a distinction between "content for
which piracy is a direct loss and enforcement makes sense” and "content for
which piracy may help build awareness to spur sales or consumption.”
As a first step,
O’Leary said association publishers should figure out which content is most at
risk for piracy and analyze why. In his presentation, he highlighted the
primary factors that often lead to digital content piracy:
· Content not available
in a desired format or in a given market.
· Unmet demand for "some”
information at a reduced price (unbundling).
· Unique information not
price is a consideration with more expensive content being at greater risk for
piracy. According to O’Leary, association publishers would be wise to regularly
monitor these risks with an eye toward not only prevention, but also possibilities
for "new markets, formats, or content offerings.”
important, he continues, that association publishers consider why their content is being pirated. In
some instances, they may find it worthwhile to interview and assess unauthorized
O’Leary suggests that pirate activities can reveal developing interest in a
specific content area, as well as opportunities to innovate or streamline by
offering more extensive or current services. These activities may represent
"weak signals” that can help association publishers compete now and in the
future. As such, he recommends that association publishers take these steps to
· Find out where your
content is shared.
· Establish the impact
· Invest in measurement
on an ongoing basis.
· Learn the right
lessons from other industries.
same time, he stresses that this approach to dealing with piracy does not represent
an argument against enforcement. Instead, O’Leary offers an alternative that
allows association publishers to balance their policing of piracy along with the
possibilities it may present.
Apryl Motley, CAE, is
a freelance writer and communications consultant, who frequently contributes to
Association Media & Publishing’s Final Proof e-newsletter and Signature magazine.