Study confirms link between better legal alternatives and a reduction in piracy, but fails to find similar links in relation to legal enforcement. Also, pirates buy more legal content than people who do not pirate
A new study that surveyed more than 35,000 consumers has found that enforcement measures designed to stamp out piracy may not be having the desired effect in reducing piracy. Instead, improving legal consumption options may be having a far greater effect in solving the piracy problem.
The Global Online Piracy Study, published by researchers at the University of Amsterdam, looked at consumer habits and legal measures in 13 countries and was not able to conclusively establish that legal measures were working.
"Still, despite the abundance of enforcement measures, their perceived effectiveness is uncertain. Therefore, it is questionable whether the answer to successfully tackling online copyright infringement lies in additional rights or enforcement measures, especially if these will not lead to additional revenue for copyright holders and risk coming into conflict with fundamental rights of users and intermediaries. Instead, it might be sensible to search for the answer to piracy elsewhere – in the provision of affordable and convenient legal access to copyright-protected content," the report stated.
The study did find "strong links" between "piracy and the availability and affordability of content", suggesting that better and more affordable legal options seem to do more to reduce piracy than law enforcement.
As with the findings of many similar studies in the past, the researchers also found that pirates and legal content consumers are actually one and the same, and that in fact, the people who purchased the most content are also often the ones that pirate the most.
"Moreover, pirates and legal users are largely the same people: demographically, pirates resemble legal users quite closely, although on average they tend to be somewhat younger and more often male. More importantly, for each content type and country, 95% or more of pirates also consume content legally and their median legal consumption is typically twice that of non-pirating legal users," concluded the report.
Overall, the researchers found that, despite high piracy levels, the market for music, film and video games have grown in the years 2014 to 2017, largely led by an increase in digital sales (as the expense of physical sales).