Opinion

Why should we take piracy seriously in the Middle East?

Why should we take piracy seriously in the Middle East? Because it has started crippling our media companies to such a great extent that if we don’t collectively do something about it, we may be left with an impotent media industry incapable of flourishing profitably – and consequently, our entertainment options may dwindle substantially. The media is not crying wolf. And we will have only ourselves to blame for not paying attention.

This is why BroadcastPro ME decided to bring the industry together for the inaugural MENA Anti-Piracy Conference last month. We were not surprised by the united calls from CEOs for regulators to take piracy seriously and mete out harsher punishments to pirates. Most of the big media houses invest heavily in investigations, track down culprits and present evidence to the relevant authorities, only to find that the resulting nominal penalties do nothing to deter others.

The reasons behind slap-on-the-wrist punishments are often rooted in the culture and colonial history of the region, one delegate observed. Also, when judges are faced with a hardened criminal who has murdered someone on the one hand and a man who has been selling illegal boxes on the other, the latter’s crime looks insignificant, and he gets away with a small sentence. A lawyer on our panel urged that increasing awareness within the judiciary could lead to harsher sentences.

Piracy is not a victimless crime, and delegates agreed that awareness is necessary for everyone in the chain, from parents, teenagers and consumers to regulators and judges. This led us to the third panel, where international experts shared some of the technical and operational strategies successfully employed to outwit the pirates.

And lastly, there was a collective call to Google, YouTube and Apple to be more vigilant, as their platforms are the greatest enablers of piracy. There was so much first-hand information shared at our conference that media heads haven’t spoken about in the past, so I encourage you to read about what they had to say and the strategies shared by experts to counter piracy.

Later this month, our team will be making our annual trip to Singapore for ConnecTechAsia. See you there.

Also read : An in-depth coverage of the panel discussions at the inaugural  MENA Anti-Piracy Conference organised by BroadcastPro ME