First when I opened the link my heart went down. My course is on RuTracker - one of The Largest torrents in internet. Downloaded more than 2000 times, 80 seeds, 15 more people downloading right when I look at it.
I did math quickly and the number of dollars that I saw in front of me as "lost" was looking like a fresh Mac Book. Or a bike, or a trip to Thailand for a week or two. But it didn't matter: neither of those guys were going to pay me a penny.
I was going to close the tab in frustration, but then out of curiocity I went to a comment section. What I saw there completely changed the way I looked at this whole situation.
"Best course in category, I would recommend to buy it" - said the original seeder.
Hm, wasn't that bad after all...
"Author is answering questions on Udemy, you should buy this course" - said another one.
While reading that I was thinking:
"That's great that you liked it, but I would prefer you buying the course instead".
And few comments later, the comment that were published around 2 months after the original pirated release:
"The course in Udemy now has 17 hours, and your torrent only has 14".
"Please update the torrent, I HAD TO BUY this course for the missing content"
NOW we're talking business. After reading this comment I gave it a deep though. Piracy is a fact. You can whine about it, you can swear and share your grief with other instructors... or you can use it to your advantage. So I sat there and thought: I can't fight piracy, but can I turn piracy into a sells funnel?
Here's the strategy that I came up with:
1. Step 1: Acceptance. Accept that your course *will* be on torrents. Let's skip past denial, anger, barganing and jump right into the acceptance. This is an important step. Breath in. Repeat: "Piracy is a fact. Udemy can't change it. Sony and Universal can't change it. I am an instructor and not a Royal Galeone, my mission is not to fight pirates, but to create great courses".
2. Make it clear that the content is updated all the time. Make a video and tell viewers to check this course regluarly, since more "great content" is coming. Just out of curiocity, people will check out Udemy to see if there's anything that their "pirated" version is missing. AND once they found that something is missing, there's a very good chance that they will want it.
3. Advertise Q&A and community in videos. In my course there's already several hundred questions and I make sure to answer them. Students are helping out too, some of the questions are answered by active students. Show it as a strong side of your course IN VIDEOS (that's what pirates get) and an essential part of an educational process.
Your goal is to find what the pirated content is missing (updates, Q&A, community), and make it very clear in your VIDEOS (since that is what pirates get), that these aspects are crucial for an effective education.
A student that downloaded such course from torrent should feel like they are missing a big part of fun. Like a kid that is standing behind the fence and watching other kids play. That's the feeling that you want to cultivate in you pirate students.
The best thing is that it will have ZERO negative impact on your paying student base, as they ARE the kids who playing.
We're welcoming all the kids who want to have fun with us. All they have to do is to walk through a front gate instead of watching from behind a fence.
Great approach. When I first joined Udemy, I saw posts about piracy and almost removed my course. “All my hard work for nothing!”. Then I thought, I interact with my students all the time on Udemy, I upload new content, share update videos, etc... Like you said, pirates don’t get that. Also, if Hollywood can’t beat piracy, neither can I! Make great courses and move along.