Legal downloading alternatives ‘just not good enough’

Peter Alvarsson, CEO of Headweb, argues that illegal downloading sites will continue to thrive until consumers are offered a viable alternative.

Legal downloading alternatives 'just not good enough'

Generally speaking, I’m in favour of copyright and the right of copyright holders to earn money from their work. I also believe in copyright on the internet – but innovative thinking is needed on the part of copyright holders if they want their work to bring financial rewards.

The time when you could ask for x amount of kronor for each individual copy is becoming a thing of the past, partly because copyright holders have lost control over the production of copies but also because they have lost control of distribution. The digital revolution made it possible for anyone to make copies, while access to the internet has put a distribution channel in every home – all at very little cost.

In the highly developed society in which we now live it is almost naive to think we might be able to stop all piracy by means of laws and restrictions. This is not to say that it should be permitted, but it’s important to improve services to the extent that piracy becomes uninteresting to the general public.

Unfortunately there are few legal alternatives for movies are and those that do exist are not very good. They will get better but I can understand why many internet users get frustrated and choose The Pirate Bay when copy protection and other things prevent them from using the legal services out there.

I also understand why many choose to download a film illegally when they can’t find it legally. What this is really about is conventional customer adaptation: improving supply to meet demand. But the film companies are lagging behind and are stuck in their ways.

Headweb was set up to become the most user-friendly movie service, to outclass the DVD market, and to compete with illegal downloading. It is possible to compete with file sharing sites if you can offer attractive services in terms of content, usability and user experience.

Legal services can guarantee ease of use, quality, correct subtitles and quick delivery in a way that is not possible for illegal downloading sites. And this is something we believe most people are willing to pay for in some form.

We’re also working on models where users get to watch films for free, but with ads attached – so the copyright holder gets paid by the advertisers. The important thing is to keep trying new models and not get bogged down focusing on the prevention of illegal copying.

See also: Swedish firm offers legal alternative to internet piracy


Four on trial in Spain over piracy for site streaming films and series

The former administrators of three pirate film and series sites that became hugely popular went on trial Monday in Spain where they risk jail for violating intellectual property rights.

Four on trial in Spain over piracy for site streaming films and series
Photo: Netflix

One association of audiovisual producers has estimated the damages they caused to rights holders at more than €500 million ($560 million).

The three websites concerned are and — “series junkies”, “film junkies” and “video junkies” in English.

Created in 2008 by an intern at the University of Murcia in Spain's southeast, they became hugely popular in the Spanish-speaking world.   

The trial comes after Spain earlier this year adopted a reform easing the closure of sites that violated intellectual property rights more than once.   

Prosecutors say the websites “gave internet users access to audiovisual material protected by intellectual property rights”, providing weblinks to online users where they could watch or download films and series for free.   

The founder, identified only as A.G. by prosecutors, earned money from advertising on the sites used by many in Spain and Latin America.   

In a court document, prosecutors said the founder started the websites “for profit and knowing the activity was illicit”.   

In April 2010, the founder sold the sites' domain names for €610,000 to three investors who are also on trial, say prosecutors.   

Sold again in 2014, the three websites stopped providing links to illegal content.

Prosecutors are seeking a two-year jail sentence and a fine of around €4,000 euros for the four defendants, as well as the closure of the sites and compensation for two associations of rights holders and producers.

In 2016, a court ordered the closure of another Spanish website, football streaming site Rojadirecta.

It ruled it had breached the intellectual property of audiovisual groups that own the rights to broadcasting sporting competitions.

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