Piracy in Central and Eastern Europe is never far from the news.
In the last few days we have seen two different and at the same surprising reports come out of the region. The first, from a publication named MixNews and quoted in several other titles, provided statistics on TV piracy in Latvia.
These showed that last year the number of households in the country accessing pirated pay-TV services fell by 19.8%, or 37,000, from 187,000 to 150,000. Moreover, in the period 2015-2018 it fell by an even more impressive 36%.
At the same time, the losses suffered in the form of uncollected taxes as a result of pay-TV piracy were also reduced, from €9.9 million in 2017 to €6.2 million last year.
Of equal importance, the report also pointed to a survey undertaken by the research company SKDS that showed the majority of Latvians are against piracy. This is also not a one-off, with the same view now having been expressed for three consecutive years.
The second report was from Tricolor, the largest pay-TV operator in Russia. It provides updates of its fight against piracy on a regular basis and in this instance was keen to discuss a case that was something of a watershed. It involved an individual who had been sentenced to 18 months of forced labour for providing illegal access to its services. One of the most severe punishments imposed against a pirate to date, it was a step change from the moderate fines and confiscation of equipment that offenders could have expected a few years ago.
These days they face the full force of the law, or what Tricolor’s legal representative described as “heavy artillery”.
While piracy in CEE will continue for a long time to come, these reports from Latvia and Russia provide hope it will eventually be significantly reduced, if not entirely eradicated.