Online piracy continues to be a thorn in the side of content creators. For as long as music, videos and games have been available on the internet, people have been finding ways to avoid paying for them. While consumers are very aware of the existence of copyright in content, it is unfortunate that some people are determined to acquire it by illegal means.
However, recent figures released by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) hint that attitudes may be changing, at least amongst younger consumers. According to the Online Copyright Infringement Tracker, over half of people aged 16 – 24 are now paying for access to at least one subscription service and overall infringement levels are down 7% from 2015 in the same group.
The report also surveys the motivations of those who illegally download services – while the main motivator is “because it is free” (at 44%), this is very closely followed by “it is easy/convenient” (at 41%) and “it is quick” (38%). Given that in the last decade or so online streaming services have made the legal acquisition of content online significantly cheaper, easier, and quicker, the corresponding uptake in these services and drop in infringement is perhaps not a coincidence.
If nothing else, the figures can serve as a reminder of the realpolitik of IP and enforcement against infringers. While taking action through the courts should always be considered (and may prove necessary), the motivations and attitudes of potential infringers is also worth due consideration. Negotiation and effective licensing may just prove to be significantly more profitable.
Sam Gyimah, Minister for IP, launched the report at the Alliance for IP British IP Day event. He said: "The variety of legitimate services now available to consumers is extraordinary and our world-leading creative industries have made great strides in meeting the demands of viewers and fans, so there really is no excuse for the ongoing use of illegal services."