The Only Thing They Didn'T Steal Was The Television

     
An infamous early 2000s anti-piracy campaign may have actually increased piracy, a new study has claimed. If you bought and watched movies legally in 2004-2007, you will be well aware of the "You Wouldn"t Steal a Car" anti-piracy chiến dịch videos. One of the benefits of pirating movies, in fact, was you didn"t have khổng lồ see the irritating piracy warnings.

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For the uninitiated, the advert listed a number of crimes và attempted lớn equate them with downloading a film, whilst also attempting khổng lồ make downloading a film look as dramatic as the other listed crimes.


"You wouldn"t steal a car," the ad begins. "You wouldn"t steal a handbag. You wouldn"t steal a television. You wouldn"t steal a movie. Downloading pirated films is stealing, stealing is against the law. PIRACY. IT"S A CRIME."

The ads have been widely parodied, including in an IT Crowd episode that included the lines "You wouldn"t steal a baby. You wouldn"t shoot a policeman và then steal his helmet. You wouldn"t go khổng lồ the nhà vệ sinh in his helmet và then send it lớn the policeman"s grieving widow. And then steal it again!"
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Was the ad the smartest campaign out there? No. But was the ad effective at preventing what it was aiming to prevent? Also no.


According to the new study published in The Information Society, by lumping in stronger arguments with weaker ones, this chiến dịch and others lượt thích it dilute their own message.

"The most striking example might be the (in)famous "You would not steal a car" awareness đoạn phim aired in cinemas and on DVDs worldwide during the 2000s," the authors wrote. "It compared downloading a movie lớn various forms of stealing, including reasonably relevant ones (stealing a DVD in a store) & somewhat absurd others (stealing handbags, TVs, cars), which diluted down the message."

This and other piracy messages may actually encourage people khổng lồ pirate films, TV, và music. What"s more, by drawing attention to the fact that a lot of people pirate films, adverts against piracy may actually be indicating that it is socially normal to vì chưng so.

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"In a field experiment, Cialdini (2003) found that messages and signs directed at discouraging theft, but informing visitors of the Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona, that many visitors were stealing small pieces of petrified wood, inadvertently increased the theft rate in comparison to the control situation," the authors cite.

"Informing directly or indirectly individuals that many people pirate is counterproductive và encourages piracy by driving the targeted individuals to lớn behave similarly."

The study also critiqued campaigns that use statistics – for example, how much piracy costs the industry – to get their point across.


"Due to human biases, it is now established, people will disproportionally help a well-identified victim more than statistical victims," the authors wrote. "In short, emphasizing statistical victims of piracy numbs – dry statistics fail lớn spark emotion and motivate action."

However, they also warn against using identifiable victims of piracy, given that – in this instance – that includes quite well-off movie stars.

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"For instance, Indian anti-piracy videos in 2018 concluded with the slogan "illegal downloading or streaming movies is stealing!! Stealing is against the law". All videos starred well-known actors, whose net worth is estimated lớn be $22–$400 million dollars, in a country where the annual per capita income is a bit less than $2,000."


"This can offer to lớn pirates a moral justification: they only steal the rich khổng lồ "feed the poor", a khung of "Robin Hood effect" that makes even more sense with some cultural or sport-related goods."

One example of how to counteract this, they write, would be lớn donate a portion of the movie"s profits khổng lồ charity in order khổng lồ make victims more relatable, or khổng lồ highlight more relatable victims of piracy than multi-millionaires.