Oct 7, 2020 - Technology

Apple TV+ joins anti-piracy coalition

Illustration of a real apple split with the apple logo

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Apple's TV+ streaming service has joined the Motion Picture Association of America's (MPA) anti-piracy coalition — the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) — and will join its governing board. 

Why it matters: The move represents Apple's growing commitment to its original programming. The company has long championed creators' rights, but now that it's producing its own content for Apple TV+, it is doubling down on efforts to protect original content.

Catch up quick: ACE was started in June 2017. Netflix and Amazon were founding members and part of the governing board along with MPA’s other members, and Netflix went on to become an MPA member in early 2019. 

  • The group today consists of dozens of members, mostly movie and content studios, including Amazon, Comcast, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Discovery, Fox, NBC Universal, Netflix, Paramount Pictures, Univision Communications Inc., ViacomCBS and more.

Details: Apple TV+ joins a smaller governing board of the coalition, which is comprised of the MPA’s six members — Disney, NBCUniversal, Netflix, Paramount, Sony Pictures and Warner Bros. — as well as Amazon and now Apple TV+. 

The big picture: TV creators, and especially streamers, have long viewed piracy as a massive problem.

  • Congress passed a bill over 20 years ago called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that sought to curb online piracy — but today, the industry still sees it as a big problem and Congress has faced pressure to update the law.
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Innovation Policy Center estimates that more than 126 billion views of U.S.-produced TV episodes are pirated every year. It estimates that illegal downloading of copyrighted materials takes up 24% of the global bandwidth.
  • Streaming piracy, defined as "illegal streaming enabled by piracy devices and apps," represents 80% of all the revenue the Chamber of Commerce study calculates that content owners are losing because of piracy.

Be smart: Hardware companies that distribute content on their TVs, computers, gaming consoles or phones have typically had less incentive to tackle piracy. But even though Apple is a hardware company, it's lately begun to invest much more heavily in software, including original content for its Apple TV+ streaming service.

  • Apple participates in a variety of Washington-based trade groups and policy coalitions, but it's typically quiet about its lobbying efforts.
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