Showing its continuing closeness with the entertainment industry, Apple TV+ is joining a Hollywood industry group trying to crack down on piracy. Variety describes the move to sign up for the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) as a “strengthening” of the bond between Apple and other studios
Apple will be part of the group’s governing board. This also includes Amazon, Disney, NBCUniversal, Netflix, Paramount, Sony Pictures and Warner Bros. ACE was set up in 2017, marking a combining of forces between traditional studios and streaming giants.
“We are the premier anti-piracy force,” said Charles Rivkin, chairman of the MPA and of ACE, in an interview. “The governing board is what determines the strategy and where to spend the budget.”
Variety notes that the alliance files lawsuits against pirate sites, forcing them offline. This is a constant effort as new sites spring up to replace those that have been removed. “When you shut down these illegal sites …. what happens is it drives traffic to legitimate sites,” Rivkin said.
Apple fights the pirates
This isn’t the first time that Apple has used its power to help traditional media companies battle piracy. The iTunes Store was largely Apple’s response to Napster, which made file-sharing mainstream in the late 1990s. In the end, fear of Napster and the digitization of music sharing helped Apple. It enabled Steve Jobs to broker deals with record labels that they previously may not have agreed to. In return, iTunes gave record labels a way to sell to a new generation of user who wanted to download tracks online.
Apple has yet to reveal how many subscribers Apple TV+ has accumulated. It also hasn’t revealed stats like its most pirated movies or shows. A report published this summer listed Game of Thrones, Rick and Morty, My Hero Academia, The Walking Dead, SpongeBob SquarePants, The 100, The Mandalorian, The Flash, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, and Harley Quinn as the most illegally downloaded TV shows during COVID-19.
(I’m guessing Apple didn’t invoke Steve Jobs’ classic Macintosh-era mantra that “It’s better to be a pirate than join the navy,” during its ACE application.)