Spotify subscribers have long been using the streaming service to play the soundtrack of their favorite movie. But some apparently now use the service to watch real movies as well.
Several TikTok users have been posting videos over the past week showing how anyone on Spotify could access movies, such as: Minions: The Rise of Gru, Pinocchioand mean girls. The clips suggest the TikTokers were just as confused by the discovery as anyone else, with captions like, “Okay, but since when can I watch movies on Spotify?” and “What the hell is happening to Spotify?”
The answer, of course, is piracy: it seems Spotify users are posting full-length movies through the video podcast tool.
TikTok users reported that the videos were indeed fully played on Spotify. The streaming music giant, for its part, has since tackled the illegal content (at least, those movies that went viral via TikTok). Most, if not all, of the films seemed to have been removed by this time londonbusinessblog.com Monday tried to find the streams. That’s not the claim that the problem has gone away completely: instead of the full-length movies, several “podcasts” have appeared that link to illegal movie websites. It’s unclear how long the instant movie streams were available to watch on Spotify.
“IP infringement is an industry-wide issue that we take very seriously,” a Spotify spokesperson told londonbusinessblog.com. “Any content provided to Spotify that infringes third-party rights will be removed.” The spokesperson added that the company “is investing heavily in processes to detect and remove such content.”
The spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for more information about when the company started removing the videos.
Piracy issues aren’t the first time the streamer has suffered from substantive growing pains. Earlier this year, several artists and creators boycotted the platform for the broadcast of The Joe Rogan Experiencea podcast that has been criticized for to spread COVID-19 misinformation. The company has since added content advisories to material mentioning COVID-19 and released its content policies.
Spotify introduced its video podcast tools in 2020 as it bolstered its bet in the space that could push the streamer beyond music and increase its profitability. The company has since rolled out video widerallowing more creators in different countries to use the feature, which they hoped would help fend off growing demand threat from YouTube.
Even as platforms and governments are cracking down on privacy, access to free content is still readily available due to the impossible logistics of checking every free video. Often it’s a game of Whac-A-Mole: one site or user is removed, another pops up. Global online piracy costs the US economy at least $29.2 billion in lost revenue every year, according to a report 2019 of the Chamber of Commerce.
It’s hard to get consumers interested in piracy in the short term because they get the content they want for free, says Michael Smith, a professor of information technology at Carnegie Mellon University. “As we know, if you get something for free, you’re less likely to pay for it,” he told londonbusinessblog.com. Research shows that piracy significantly hurts movie sales. The stunted sales led studios to make different kinds of movies and then release fewer photos.
The issue of piracy is one that Spotify is familiar with: Many credit streaming music platforms curbing the practice by democratizing access to music through ad-supported services.