Danaher et al. (2019)
|Danaher et al. (2019)|
|Title:||The Effect of Piracy Website Blocking on Consumer Behavior|
|Author(s):||Brett Danaher, Jonathan Samuel Hersh, Michael D. Smith, Rahul Telang|
|Citation:||Danaher, Brett and Hersh, Jonathan Samuel and Smith, Michael D. and Telang, Rahul, The Effect of Piracy Website Blocking on Consumer Behavior (August 13, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2612063 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2612063|
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|About the Data|
|Data Description:||The study hypothesises that the higher number of websites blocked at once has a more significant impact on consumer behaviour than the blocking of a single site.
The study assesses three waves of site blocking in the UK: Pirate Bay in 2012; blocking of 19 major piracy sites in 2013; and a further blocking of 53 video piracy sites in 2014.
Using data on UK internet users from PanelTrack, the study uses a difference-in-difference approach to determine whether pre-block behaviour correlates with post-block behaviour.
|Data Type:||Primary and Secondary data|
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|Data Analysis Methods:|
|Cross Country Study?:||No|
|Government or policy study?:||No|
|Time Period(s) of Collection:|
“In this study we ask what drives the success or failure of various supply side antipiracy enforcement actions such as piracy website blocking. We do this in the context of three court-ordered events affecting consumers in the UK: We first study Internet Service Providers’ blocking of 53 video piracy sites in 2014 and of 19 piracy sites in 2013, and we then study the blocking of a single dominant site – The Pirate Bay – in 2012.
We show that blocking 53 sites in 2014 caused treated users to decrease piracy and to increase their usage of legal subscription sites by 7-12%. It also caused an increase in new paid subscriptions. We find similar results for the blocking of 19 piracy sites in 2013. However, blocking a single site in 2012 caused no increase in usage of legal sites but instead caused users to increase visits to other unblocked piracy sites and VPN sites. We find evidence that increased search and learning costs associated with piracy drive the effectiveness of blocking multiple sites rather than just one primary site.
This suggests that to increase legal IP use when faced with a dominant piracy channel, the optimal policy response must block multiple channels of access to pirated content, a distinction that the current literature has not made clear.”
Main Results of the Study
Blocking of a single dominant/major pirate site is not effective in changing consumer behaviour. Based on the blocking of Pirate Bay, the study finds that this did not significantly disrupt consumer behaviour and did not increase legal consumption. This may be due to the multiplicity of other pirate channels available at the time (causing migration), combined with a lack of access to legal consumption.
Instead, blocking multiple pirate websites decreases visits to illegal channels and increases legal consumption. An analysis of user behaviour following the 2013 and 2014 site blocks caused decreases in visits to blocked sites by 80-95%, and an increase in 7-12% of legal consumption through e.g. paid streaming services (such as Netflix).
The authors suggest that consumer behaviour is driven by search and learning costs; when it is difficult to find and access illegal content (by e.g. blocking composite linking sites) then this behaviour is deterred.
Policy Implications as Stated By Author
Short of tackling the sources of pirate materials in cyberlockers (which the authors note is not always feasible), policymakers are advised to block multiple sites in one sitting (‘akin to decapitating several of the Hydra’s heads’). According to the study, this reduces the number of visits to pirate websites and increases legal consumption.