Nora Bakhorji, anti-piracy executive, MBC Group, explains how MBC is collaborating with industry peers to tackle piracy in the MENA region.
How has TV and film piracy changed in the past two years?
There has been no clear or fixed pattern as to how TV or film piracy has been changing. It has been constantly fluctuating, sometimes the pirating of shows or movies is on the rise and sometimes it remains the same. We have jointly collated forces with other distributers and are keeping a close eye on these pirating channels. We managed to exert pressure on a lot of channels and shut them down. However, some either reappear with different names or on different frequencies. It is an ongoing battle.
What is currently the biggest source of piracy in the region?
Piracy is found in a lot of different forms, it would be very difficult to pinpoint the exact number of infringements on platforms. It is not feasible to invest into finding out which type of piracy is causing the largest damages. Piracy can never be abolished as long as the consumers are willing to engage in piracy. It has no specific source; it could be online, through peer to peer, cyber lockers, torrents download or streaming. It has always been a serious threat. When we purchase/produce movies or shows we expect them to perform at a certain ranking and generate certain profits, however, with piracy in the mix, it greatly hurts the viewership and hence leads to great financial losses.
Has the Anti-Piracy Coalition been a success?
Since we started the coalition in 2014, we’ve had many successes. The coalition was built with only one aim in mind, which is to join the forces of the major players in the MENA region and combat piracy. We have developed policies and strategies and have built and nurtured a solid relationship with the members. We have been meeting for almost 2 years now and have come up with takedown policies where we all try to work together to remove these channels off air. As a coalition, we have successfully taken down numerous pirating channels up until today. We work together with the satellite distributors in order to avoid the legal route.
Have these battles against piracy reduced the problem or merely curtailed its growth?
We have been able to take a lot of pirating channels off air or simply stopped them from airing our content. But some of those pirating channels either resume playing our content after withholding for some time, or reappear with different names or even move to different distributers, so there is no definitive answer as to whether piracy is increasing/decreasing or is staying the same.
Which countries are the worst effected?
The MENA region is suffering as a whole; there are many individuals who are willing to steal from the talented and successful people. For example, Egypt has great expertise in the film industry, great legacies and a large talent pool. It is a large target to many pirates. It will take time to create public awareness, governments are willing but progress is slow.