World Intellectual Property Organization

Countering Piracy and Counterfeiting

Anti-counterfeiting/piracy outreach campaigns target a wide range of audiences with tailored messages – from campaigns that discourage young people from downloading music illegally, to those that help teach law enforcement officers how to differentiate between an original and a counterfeit product. The music, software and movie industries lead vigorous efforts to reduce piracy through public awareness campaigns. While government-led campaigns are often driven the social costs of counterfeit and piracy, such as health and safety, links to organized crime and the negative economic impact. The campaigns use a variety of communication tools, ranging from websites to special events, advertisements, exhibitions, workshops and more.

Anti-piracy/counterfeiting awareness campaigns often follow a similar pattern. They begin by explaining what copyright means, how copyright contributes to further creation and why piracy is wrong. This initial phase of the campaign is usually followed by a more aggressive one, with messages stressing that piracy is a crime that will be punished by law.

There is evidence that combining awareness campaigns with enforcement is particularly effective. For example, the 1990’s Click it or Ticket campaign in North Carolina to encourage the use of seatbelts showed impressive results when both awareness communication and enforcement were part of a combined marketing strategy. But seat belt use decreased as soon as the communication element was removed, despite the continuing enforcement. Likewise, the 2005 Fake Nation study by the Intellectual Property Theft and Organised Crime research project (IPTOC) found that most UK consumers are already aware that the sharing of unauthorized copies of music files is illegal; and that 75% of the respondents see the threat of prosecution as an effective deterrent.

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