A substantial number of people among the Singapore population carry out media piracy, and the severity of this issue is reflected in Fig 1.1. Media piracy runs rampant in Singapore, as a shocking 4 in 10 Singaporeans are actively streaming illegal content, whereas a notable three-quarter of respondents in a Straits Times survey stated that they would not pay for online videos
Fig 1.1: Statistics on media piracy in Singapore
Singapore is being plagued by media piracy and this issue ought to be addressed to prevent the already-severe problem from exacerbating.
1.2 Root Causes
Technological advancement comes at a cost, as the start of the Digital Age brings about many negative implications. Due to these various root causes (Fig 1.2), media piracy becomes increasingly prevalent today.
Fig 1.2: Root Causes for media piracy (self-created)
1.2.1 Increased ease of accessibility
According to antipiracy consulting firm Muso, worldwide users made a total of 300 billion visits to internet piracy sites last year, which was up 1.6% from 2016. The ease of accessibility on the Internet is one of the factors for this increase as users are more likely to encounter websites catered to media piracy and be enticed to conduct unscrupulous acts of it . For example, while some countries has tried to ban the infamously popular pirate site “Pirate Bay”, simply using a VPN network or re-configuring DNS settings allows anyone to access Pirate Bay again. Google even offers many alternative URLs that can be used to enter the Pirate Bay, making it easily accessible.
1.2.2 More illegal sites
With the Internet being ever-expanding, more illegal sites will definitely be created. Users are more likely to stumble across a illegal site and conduct media piracy. Popular applications and websites such as UTorrent and Pirate Bay increases the occurrence of media piracy.
Fig 1.3: (from left to right) UTorrent and Pirate Bay
1.2.3 Ignorant of the consequences of media piracy
Internet users may simply not be aware of the consequences associated with media piracy, and thus continue to carry it out without much thought.This can be seen from a survey which showed that 35% of the respondents did not know that such downloads are illegal
1.2.4 Lack of self-discipline
Although users may be aware of the consequences brought about by media piracy, they may still lack the self-discipline to stop it as it is convenient and free. This can be substantiated by our survey results.
Fig 1.4: Survey Results on why people commit media piracy (self-created)
From our survey results, it concludes that the majority of offenders of media piracy do so because it is convenient and free of charge.
Companies lose billions of dollars due to media piracy, which can be significant amounts for small companies in the media industry. Due to this, a substantial number of jobs are also lost.
In the music industry in the United States, $12.5 billion is lost yearly due to music theft, while almost 72,000 jobs are lost in the US economy. In the TV and film industry in 2017, the US lost almost $31.8 billion to media piracy and streaming, and there are predictions that this loss will increase to a whopping $52 billion by 2022.
Fig 1.5: Table showing loss in income due to media piracy in the TV and film industry
Established artists in their industries also feel that media piracy has gone too far, and that they are not getting the recognition they deserve for the effort they put into their work. Shown below is a quote from popular music artist Taylor Swift expressing her view on media piracy:
“I'm not willing to contribute my life's work to an experiment that I don't feel fairly compensates the writers, producers, artists, and creators of this music. And I just don't agree with perpetuating the perception that music has no value and should be free.”
Fig 1.6: Taylor Swift's statement on media piracy
1.4 Current Measures
1.4.1 Copyright law/act (passed in 1987)
Copyright infringement in Singapore occurs when someone uses copyrighted work without the owner's consent. This is to deter people from committing media piracy.
Although copyright laws are enacted in Singapore, people still illegally download online content due to a lack of awareness for the existence of these laws. According to our survey, 30% of the respondents do not even realise downloading from piracy sites are illegal. (Refer to Appendix C) Furthermore, these laws are rather media piracy even though they may be aware of it.
1.4.2 Streaming services
Streaming services, such as Spotify and Netflix, encourages users to access music and movies legitimately, for a small user charge every month. These services are made so that users can conveniently access the movies and music they desire without having to pay for it individually. This helps to reduce occurrences of media piracy of music and movies from legitimate sources.
Fig 1.7: Streaming service platform Spotify which allow users to stream and download music
Fig 1.8: Popular online movie streaming platform, Netflix
People do not want to pay for access to these streaming platforms, thus turning them away from subscribing, which conversely lead to them looking towards pirating their media content for free instead.
Furthermore, these platforms are often prone to hackers which exploit the software without paying the full subscription cost. This is supported by the fact that hackers can hack protected websites to gain their desired information.
1.5 Desired outcomes
Almost 70% of Singaporeans continue carrying out media piracy even though they know it is illegal, which shows that Singaporeans may not be aware of the heavy implications caused by media piracy. This brings up the need to make people more knowledgeable of the negative consequences linked to media piracy.
We also aim to change the mindsets of people such that they would no longer want to commit acts of media piracy.
Hence, to fulfill our desired outcome, we will be analysing a case study in Chapter 2 to address the problem of media piracy.
Case Study: Florida Department of Health “Tobacco Free Campaign”
Fig 2.1: Tobacco Free Florida
The US state of Florida have been implementing a “Tobacco Free Campaign” for over a decade.
In the state of Florida, the Tobacco Free Bureau recorded outstanding results in reducing the overall use of tobacco. In only three years (2013 to 2016) the average rate of cigarette consumption in the state has gone down by 13%. In 2006, the adult smoking rate was 21 percent. In 2015, it stands at 15.8 percent – the lowest it has ever been.
2.2 Learning Points
2.2.1 Good use of advertisement
Fig 2.2: Tobacco Free Florida making use of Super Bowl
Fig 2.3: A popular commercial run during Super Bowl
In 2010, Tobacco Free Florida had their advertisements to be run multiple times before, during and after the Super Bowl Game. Such big event has large audience, thus advertisements strategically posted in such events will be brought to many's attention, raising awareness of the issue effectively. A focus group was run on people who had seen the commercials and concluded that people were convinced by the advertisements.
Learning Point 1
Using large-scale events like the Super Bowl to show advertisements and messages
Make use of popular events in Singapore such as the Chingay and Formula One Grand Prix race to play ads to expose more people to the ramifications of media piracy
2.2.2 Use of social media platforms
Tobacco Free Florida utilizes social media platforms to spread their message as much as possible so as to get people to quit smoking. Social media is widely used by netizens today and the popularity and effectiveness of the Tobacco Free Florida campaign is reflected in the large following on their social media accounts.
Fig 2.4: Tobacco Free Florida's Facebook page and its large following
Fig 2.5: Twitter page of Tobacco Free Florida and its large following
Learning Point 2
Use of various social media platforms to gain a large following
Use of popular social media platforms to spread the message of media piracy to more people
2.2.3 Appeal to people's emotions
Fig 2.6: Tobacco Free Florida Posters
Fig 2.7: Screenshot from Tobacco Free Florida video advertisement
The Tobacco Free Florida Campaign used messages that elicit strong emotional response, such as personal testimonials and strong viscerally negative content.
Learning Point 3
Posters and videos displaying strong emotional language
Posters to use strong words and phrases that evoke emotions from readers
2.2.4 Broad Scope of Target Audience
Fig 2.8: Tobacco Free Florida Website in English
Fig 2.9: Tobacco Free Florida Website in Spanish
The campaign is able to target as many people as possible through the different communication channels that it utilizes, such as English (Fig 2.8) and Spanish (Fig 2.9). This allows for maximum exposure of the message that we are trying to send about the negative consequences of media piracy.
Learning Point 4
Using of different languages to target broad audience
Use of four national languages in posters and videos
Hence, to address the root causes, we aim to raise awareness and change mindsets, which will be covered in the following chapters 3 and 4.
Chapter 3: Raising Awareness
Media piracy is an issue that not many people may associate with having a significant implication on society. As such, many people deem it acceptable to conduct acts of media piracy. A Danish study done in 2010 concluded that 70% of the public finds that media piracy is socially acceptable. This brings up the need to raise awareness on the consequences of media piracy so that people can realize that committing such acts is harmful to society.
3.1 Good use of advertisement
“Advertising is one of the most important things present in our society today. Advertising helps to keep the consumers informed about whatever new products or services are available in the market at their disposal. It helps to spread awareness about products or services that are of some use to consumer and potential buyers.” - Diwakar Arora (Head of Product Marketing at Times OOH)
Collectively, the top 200 advertisers in the United States spent a record $137.8 billion on advertising in 2014, up 2% year on year, according to Ad Age's annual "200 Leading National Advertisers" report.
Lack of awareness of the negative implications of media piracy
Good usage of advertisement
Make aware to people the effects of media piracy and aim to curb it
3.1.1 Advertising at large-scale events
Events that happen on a massive scale would be able to attract a substantial number of people in attendance. These situations are extremely favourable for advertisers as opportunities for extensive exposure of their ads are presented to them.
Fig 3.1: Advertisers use the Super Bowl as an opportunity to gain massive exposure
Huge events such as the Super Bowl (Fig 3.1) attract many advertisers who seek to gain exposure for their ads. We can also make use of similar events in Singapore to air ads and expose the message of the negative consequences of media piracy to more people.
Fig 3.2: Chingay is one of the largest events in Singapore
Fig 3.3: The annual Formula One Grand Prix in Singapore also attracts massive crowds
In Singapore, the annual Chingay (Fig 3.2) and Singapore Grand Prix (Fig 3.3) attract a substantial number of people, including foreigners, who are keen in watching these events. In 2015, the Chingay attracted 35 million viewers across Asia, while the Singapore Grand Prix had more than 263,000 people in attendance. These high attendance rates are advantageous to advertise for our cause.
Large screens can be installed to display the message that we are trying to send, that is, the consequences of media piracy. As these events are broadcasted nationally, people watching from their homes can also be exposed to our message. The Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore can be a leading organization in airing these advertisements as it would be advantageous for the media industry to curb media piracy.
3.1.2 Effective placements of advertisements at frequented locations
Posters and advertisements can be displayed at areas that are frequented by many people on a daily basis. This includes Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) stations (Fig 3.4) and bus interchanges (Fig 3.5).
Fig 3.4: Posters can be put up at MRT stations that are frequented by many people (self-created)
Fig 3.5: Posters can also be put up at bus interchanges that are frequented by many people
Posters can also be put up in schools at places that students frequent. Some photo examples using our self-created posters are shown below:
Fig 3.6: (from left to right) Posters on media piracy in the library (bookshelves and computer) and outside the computer lab (self-created)
By putting up posters at these areas that many people pass by, the message of the consequences of media piracy can be spread more effectively to the public.
3.1.3 Use of electronic posters
Fig 3.7: An electronic poster at a local MRT station
Electronic posters to be shown to the public can also be made such that it can be changed to specifically appeal to a certain group of people at different time periods throughout the day.
Different methods of transmitting information appeal to different age groups. People of older age such as adults may prefer messages that are less wordy and easier for them to process, whereas in contrast, young adults and children may respond better to messages with flashy visuals or latest trends.
Proposed Schedule for Poster Placement
Target Audience (Type of poster to display)
Students on their way to school
Working Adults on their way to work
Working Adults purchasing lunch
Students on their way home
Working Adults on their way home
3.2 Usage of Social Media
Social media is defined as websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking. Nowadays, 98% of all netizens are engaged in social media, and this proves that social media is all the more an effective way of communicating and bringing our message across to netizens.
Ineffective methods of driving across the message that we want to deliver
Usage of Social Media
Make aware to people the negative consequences of media piracy and aim to curb it
3.2.1 Usage of social media platforms
Fig 3.8: (from left to right) Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, some of the most popular social media platforms
With the recent advent in technology, social media platforms have also seen an exponential increase in popularity year by year, and a large proportion of the population now has access to many social media platforms (Fig 4.7).
According to a research study, an average person has at least five social media accounts, and spends almost 2 hours per day on social media, which makes up to almost 30% of the total time spent on the Internet. These staggering numbers show the popularity of social media, and it gives more reason for us to make use of these platforms to spread our message on media piracy.
We created an Instagram account to raise awareness about the consequences of media piracy through posting various fun facts pertaining to media piracy so offenders who view these posts can feel the weight of their actions. The popularity of our account skyrocketed within a short period of time, which is a testament to the wide outreach that Instagram has on the public and that our message can be effectively delivered to users.
Fig 3.9: Our group's Instagram account used to raise awareness for the consequences of media piracy
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