HITS Spring: Finding Effective Piracy Solutions More Urgent Than Ever for M&E Companies

Pre-release piracy of content is costly for media & entertainment (M&E) companies and it’s become simple to illegally make copies and distribute pirated content, so it’s more important than ever to find effective solutions to protect all that content, according to Steve Curd, CEO and president of Scaeva Technologies.

We’ve come a long way since the first song was copyrighted in the U.S. in 1794 (“The Kentucky Volunteer”) and the first film was copyrighted 100 years later (the silent “Fred Ott’s Sneeze” from Edison Studios), he said May 17, speaking during a breakout session at HITS Spring: The Hollywood Innovation & Technology Summit.

It was, after all, difficult to make illegal copies of songs and movies for many years, he pointed out during a session called “A Recording Engineer, a Producer, and a Sound Designer walk into a bar…” To duplicate that Edison movie, one would have had to first get the film strip out of a Kodi Box before figuring out how it could then be copied, he noted.
But it’s become a heck of a lot easier to illegally copy songs and movies in recent years.

In 1995, it took $4,000 worth of storage and a whopping 40 days to transfer one HD movie or 600 songs, Curd noted. But fast forward to 2018 and it now costs only about 12 cents of computer storage and a mere 13 minutes to transfer the same HD movie and 600 songs, he said, adding: “That’s the fundamental problem” we face with piracy today.
The cost of media piracy is projected to balloon from $32 billion in 2017 to $52 billion by 2022, according to Curd.

Today, “we’ve got technology, we’ve got intelligence, we’ve got smart networks,” he said, adding: “You’ve got 30 companies out there protecting content, and it’s going in the wrong direction.”

Scaeva’s “hypothesis” is that “the industry continues to be plagued with vulnerabilities related to sharing content, collaborating around content, storing content and we’re committed to focus on those leakages to eradicate piracy as we know it,” he said at the summit.

Three film/TV and music industry executives whose companies have used startup Scaeva’s patented content protection solution went on to discuss the challenges presented by post-production workflows and the need for balancing productive collaboration with safety.

The main challenge is that, thanks to technological advances, it’s become so easy for anybody – even kids – to access and illegally download digital music at home, Andrew Bojanic, owner of Emerald City Studios, pointed out.

Krish Sharma, a recording engineer and CEO of BYGMusic, recalled an incident many years ago the first time he worked with The Rolling Stones. In addition to the album the band was recording, the band decided to archive some outtakes, but somebody copied the content, which wound up at another record label, in Italy, that released the pirated material, he said. Since then, piracy threats have become far worse, so engineers have wound up having to constantly deal with liability issues and make sure they are always in control of the content they have been entrusted with, he said.

What it comes down to is that losing control of an artist’s content could result in one’s career being over, Curd noted.

The entire workflow for studios has changed significantly to deal with the threat of piracy, according to Cameron Frankley, an Emmy Award-winning sound designer and mixer, as well as CEO of NumberNine Productions.

HITS Spring was produced by the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA) and the Hollywood IT Society (HITS), in association with Women in Technology: Hollywood (WiTH); the Content Delivery & Security Association (CDSA) and the Smart Content Council. The event was presented by Entertainment Partners, with sponsorship by Expert System, LiveTiles, Microsoft Azure, Ooyala, Veritone, Amazon Web Services, Avanade, Avid, IBM Security, MarkLogic, Aspera, Light Point Security, MicroStrategy, SAS, Scaeva Technologies, Western Digital, Brainstorm, Zaszou IT Consulting and Bob Gold & Associates.

To access the Scaeva Technologies presentation, click here.