Illegal Content Online Mars African Creative Industries
Africa Opinions

Illegal Content Online Mars African Creative Industries

18th January 2022. Statistics show that users across Africa are going online to consume pirated content – striking a serious blow to the sustainability of Africa’s content-creation industries.

Figures released by software security and media technology company Irdeto show that users in five major African territories made a total of around 17,4 million visits to the top 10 identified piracy sites on the internet.

This traffic forms part of the total 345,4 million visits by worldwide users to the piracy sites from June to August this year.

The most popular content piracy site tracked by Irdeto attracted 92,2 million visits during the survey period from Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and Tanzania.

Of the African territories tracked during the piracy survey, visits from IP addresses in Kenya reflected the largest number of users of pirated content, with seven million visits.

South Africa had the second most visits, with five million. Around 2,4 million visits were recorded from Ghana, 2,3 million from Nigeria, and 626 694 from Tanzania.

“Any time someone accesses, shares or sells copyrighted content without authorisation, they are committing content piracy,” says Mark Mulready, VP of Cyber Services at Irdeto.

“As high-quality content and streaming technology become more easily available, it has also become easier for pirates to illegally acquire and redistribute content.”

Streaming piracy is the biggest threat to content owners, broadcasters and operators. The content most often pirated via the internet is software, music, literature and video content, including live sports and the latest series and movies. With more powerful mobile devices, a smartphone alone can be used for sophisticated cyberpiracy.

Creative-content piracy is rising – particularly since the onset of Covid-19 lockdowns, which forced many people to stay home, resulting in a surge in demand for TV and film entertainment.

Digital video piracy costs the entertainment industry up to $71 billion every year, according to the US Chamber of Commerce’s Global Innovation Policy Center – harming businesses, destroying jobs, and stifling economic growth.

This amount – more than the annual gross domestic product of Mozambique, Uganda and Guinea combined – represents the impact on the US entertainment sector alone. The economic impact on the rest of the world is similarly catastrophic.

In Africa, it is not just individuals, but also large organisations that share content without paying the licence fees owed to the creators, licence holders and distributors. This practice seriously threatens the sustainability of Africa’s creative sector.

“Content piracy robs content creators, artists and entire creative communities of their royalties,” says Mulready from Irdeto. “Besides the creators, publishers, and distributors, it hurts the entire media industry.”

A movement has arisen to fight the scourge of piracy, driven by organisations such as Partners Against Piracy (PAP), an international campaign to protect the livelihoods of the thousands of professionals who depend on the content industry to feed their families, hone their craft and support the local economy.

Piracy has a serious negative effect on our economy and on the ability of our creative professionals to earn a living.

It harms investor confidence and tax revenue, and can also affect trade opportunities if we are not seen as a country where intellectual property is respected and protected.”