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Operations & Data Science

Catch Me if You Can: Effectiveness and Consequences of Online Copyright Enforcement

Christian Peukert

We evaluate the takedown of, a major platform for unlicensed video streaming in the German market. We compare how the web behavior of a large number of users in Germany has changed compared to users in three other European countries. We find that the intervention was not very effective in reducing unlicensed consumption or encouraging licensed consumption, mainly because users quickly switch to alternative unlicensed sites. To the contrary, we find that press coverage of the takedown operation allows consumers to learn about the existence and legal status of unlicensed video streaming, causing some users to become pirates.

Our findings may perhaps translate into other contexts, where aggregate behaviour has seemingly not changed quite as intended, despite law enforcement efforts, e.g. in the so-called war on drugs. In such cases, the design of alternative policies seems to need to be informed by empirical evidence of the underlying mechanisms. Managers in the movie industry, as well as legislative bodies that are confronted with the challenges of digitization and the design of private and public law enforcement policy, are most likely to be impacted by our research.

Peukert, C., Aguiar, L. & Claussen, J. (2018). Catch Me if You Can: Effectiveness and Consequences of Online Copyright Enforcement. Information Systems Research.