Clear Sky Initiative again gathered right holders for the conference “Fighting piracy in Ukraine: What’s done – What to do” on 28 September, 2018. In response to the Initiative’s invitation to all those keen on intellectual property protection, a group met on 19 September, 2018 within the framework of the Kyiv Media Week.
Ukraine is able to and should follow the geek economy course. There is no doubt that the creation of its own human intellect products would lead to large-scale employment possibilities for highly qualified and skilled personnel, further growth of environmentally benign production, while encouraging both local creative endeavors and investments from abroad.
But what are we supposed to do if such products have been subject to theft, which poses a risk for the creative industry development? Who is supposed to meet the threat? What has been done? And what are the challenges to meet in the nearest future? What about the relevant provisions in this country’s current laws? Which tools are used in response to the threat to remedy the situation? Any results achieved and, if so, what are they? What do our neighbors offer to combat piracy?
Kateryna Fedorova, Clear Sky Initiative Public Union Director, acting as the conference moderator, suggested that we should seek answers to the above questions, deriving from coverage of the intellectual protection issues in Ukraine’s current laws. She commented on the relevant administrative and criminal responsibility stipulated for the intellectual property infringements. In addition, she translated the discussion into operational practices, focusing on the measures taken, and further implications for right holders.
Zaur Urusov, Deputy Head, Cyber police Department, reported on the daily legal routine to be followed by law enforcement authorities and in particular: “Infringements of intellectual property fall into the private prosecution crimes category and therefore we are entitled to initiate criminal proceedings on the issues, only subject to prior official complaints launched by the right holders and submission of all the required documents pertaining to the misdemeanor in question. The number of the applications is ever-growing year in, year out. The wrongdoings are most frequently reported in Lvov, Kiev and Dnepr. It is only in the course of 2018 that more than 30 cases have been referred to court with more than 100 infringements fixed all in all.”
Viacheslav Miienko, Deputy Director General for Legal Affairs, “1+1 Media”, Managing Partner, Smartsolutions Law Group, shared a certain action plan to combat piracy: “We have highlighted the three main activity areas to focus on with the aim of drawing up an effective strategy for anti-piracy campaigns, namely: to consistently monitor infringements prevailing in the market, to find out an overall solution to protect rights, while integrating up-to-date technologies and lawyers’ experience, and also to actively coordinate activities carried out by the right holder and work group at all stages up to the final settlement of dispute.” He also named a few combat tools, including initiation of criminal and administrative cases, locking access to content within the Internet, blacklists and submission of applications to public authorities.”
Nikolai Feingold, Commercial Director, StarLight Digital, emphasized: “We fight thefts and thieves. Within the context, a pirate is a businessman, profiting from a high margin business since he/she does not pay anything to a content producer. Thus we fight the good fight for fair and equal provisions to raise money. What we have at our disposal are intellectual property protection algorithms and tried and tested templates. We are well prepared and ready to share our experience, information and instructions, so there is no need for other right holders to reinvent the wheel. The latest attainments to our credit are as follow: 27 entries in URPTI (Unified Register of Pre-Trial Investigations) with 5 of them being subject to searches, 6 of them sent for expert investigation, and 1 of them –taken to court.”
Vladimir Iling, Head, Ukrainian Anti-Piracy Association, commented on activities and achievements especially in the sphere of camcording: “It is our opinion that internet piracy, illegal show of motion pictures and camcording are the main piracy challenges. In the course of 2018 we have made every effort to close sites (51), replace hostings (41) and close movie theaters (42). For the first time ever a camcorder has been detained with the relevant criminal proceedings instigated pursuant to Article 176 of Ukraine’s Criminal Code.”
Victoriya Tsomaya, Marketing Director, CMO VOLIA, was the first one to speak on burning issues, such as business versus its support for right holders, transformation of content consumption in terms of formats and technologies, the resulting implications for the market and intellectual rights protection. “When economics is at standstill, theft will prevail but tend to disappear if and when the economy recovers, i.e. when it starts to be lucrative. The right holders have, nevertheless, to reconsider their pricing policies. If we take a look at the segments in which they have already done this, we would see that piracy is actually vanishing there.”
Aleksey Krasiuk, Deputy Director for Operations and Information Safety , EMA (Ukrainian Interbank Payment Systems Member Association) commented on the banks cum right holders cooperation prospects: “Within the framework of cooperation with Clear Sky we are planning to draw up a procedure to inform banks and payment services concerning funds for the use of illegal content received on their clients’ accounts. Accounting for the ban on such activities it would make financial organizations suspend cooperation with such clients and also, given that EMA incorporates the majority of Ukrainian banks and financial organization participants in in the payment market, the project seems to be quite promising.”
Andrey Bichuk, Lawyer, OLX (a classified ads company and a platform for selling goods and services) made a point on another aspect of combating piracy: “OLX is a global worldwide brand. Therefore we can’t stand aside and be part of the piracy ecosystem. Trying to provide opportunities for all users, we promptly respond to all requests so as to meet the overarching goal which would be a win-win situation in the end.”
The Conference segment on the tools of antipiracy campaign was launched by Dmitriy Levin, Head, Content Monitoring Center, Starlight Digital (TV Channels such as STB, Novy, ICTV, etc.): “Of late we have managed to either remove or block our channels’ illegal online broadcasts (29), attachments for Google Play and AppStor (7), OLX ads (762), STB sale announcements (4), Official OTT pirates on Facebook (2 groups), playlists ( 61), ForkPlayer installment videos (87). We have now a few – in fact, 19 – success cases of blocking payments due to intellectual property rights infringers via Visa and Master Card. We are also proud of our latest achievements on Instagram and a cooperation project with Infomir which has just been launched.”
Andrey Bakhtalovsky, Product Owner, SUDUM (monitoring content software) and Anna Andryushchenko Projects Director, Kinolife Distribution, commented on their joint effort in combating illegal distribution of motion pictures, emphasizing SUDUM’s effectiveness. According to Anna, “The high piracy rate on the Internet is our major challenge. Besides, people are not ready to pay for content. While investing in advertising, we automatically promote pirate sites, codes and thus go around in circles. However, SUDUM has helped us remove 27,022 illegal video copies, 9,141 pages from Google search, and block 50 sites using shady corporate identity for advertising shady goods and services.”
The final part of the Conference was opened by Marta Sulkiewicz, Sales Director for Gemius products in the EMEA&APAC region. Ms Sulkiewicz shared her observations on pay services development in Poland, citing as an example the legalization of a once pirate site. The service now accounts for 100,000 subscribers gaining quite legal revenues. In addition, Marta commented on the company’s research into the sites from blacklists.org which helps promptly detect ad placement on sites infringing the right holders’ rights. However, there are some good reasons for ad placement on such sites, particularly technical errors or unfair partners. The situation might be remedied by a special email option which would help fence off the consequences. The list of top-10 pirate resources represented to uanet audience is the result of the a.m. activities.
Aleksey Shuldeshov, Producer, Star Media, provided more insight into the specifics of right holders’ losses and loss calculations on YouTube and digital environments in dealings with the TV majors. We have our own content (more than 5.5 hours) and more than 350 titles that are to be protected. Therefore, we have established a structure of our own to protect content so as to prevent profit losses in the digital environment, price reduction in contracts with TV majors, cuts in product value, and loss of goodwill.
Rounding up the discussion, Kateryna Fedorova commented on research into Ukraine’s Internet audience implemented by Gemius specifically for the Clear Sky Initiative, while focusing on issues, such as the most consumed online content, the readiness of Ukrainians to buy access to content, and their ability to tell the difference between pirated and legal videos. The findings are as follows: watching video on the Internet is the most popular – 50% of the audience, 34% of whom are able to differentiate legal from illegal content and 89% who claim the need to fight piracy. As for payments, only 17% are ready to pay for content and about 7% do actually pay.
“Piracy is extremely detrimental to business. Nevertheless, winning the anti-piracy campaign opens up a tremendous space for business. So, what are we supposed to do? To pool our efforts, to share our experiences, to work in both parallel and simultaneous ways, and to use recommendations drawn up by Clear Sky participants” – that’s how Kateryna Fedorova summarized the discussion, appealing to all concerned to join forces in the antipiracy campaign.