Piracy in Poland is the lowest in the EU

According to a recent report by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), the scale of online piracy in the EU is decreasing every year. Poles as a nation have special reasons to be proud in this regard – as the report shows, we are the least likely of all EU citizens to use illegal content.

In 2020, the average internet user in the EU accessed copyright infringing content 5.9 times per month. Users from Poland did this on average 3.8 times per month. Besides Poland, Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Spain and the UK also rank below the EU average .

Piracy, i.e. copyright infringement

Piracy is the colloquial term used for acts of copyright infringement, such as illegally copying or using the works of others without their consent and without paying the appropriate fee. However, the activity in question will not be considered piracy, if it can be considered an authorized use under applicable regulations.

The vast majority of online piracy in the European Union is the streaming of illegal content – in 2020 it accounted for over 80% of illegal online activity by EU citizens. Other recognized types of piracy are the illegal downloading of copyrighted works, stream ripping (the most common method used in the case of music, consisting of creating unauthorized copies of songs that are legally available for streaming) and torrenting, that is, the simultaneous downloading and transfer of data within the peer-to-peer (“everyone with everyone”) network. We face the most serious consequences when using the torrent network – illegal distribution of the work that occurs during downloading is a crime punishable by fine, restriction of liberty or imprisonment for up to 2 years.

Illegal access to television channels constitutes 70% of online piracy in the European Union, pirated films – 20% and music – 10%.

Why do we pay creators?

According to the so-called welfare theory, to which the Office refers in the report, one of the fundamental objectives of the system of protection of economic copyrights and related rights is to provide creators and performers or performers appropriate encouragement, an incentive to engage in creative activity. This incentive takes the form, first, of economic copyrights, which – in simplified terms – enable authors, producers and performers to obtain remuneration for the use of their intellectual property. Taking the example of cinema, this may mean obtaining compensation for, among other things, cinema screenings, Internet streaming, or multiplication with the aim of selling DVDs with a given film.

The system thus conceived remains centered not on individual authors, but on the whole of society – its enrichment and development through the continuous progress of culture and technology, which consists of the creative efforts of individuals. The objective, therefore, is to properly balance the interests of creators and society, i.e. to provide such a system of incentives that will ensure the optimal level of creative activity, while maintaining wide access public about its results and the possibility of continuing to build on past achievements.

According to the above model, the fundamental negative effect of piracy is that creators are deprived of their remuneration, which, alongside the need for achievement, expression or self-recognition, is one of the most important stimuli. important triggers of the creative impulse in a society. . Are we then facing the end of culture due to the popularity of piracy?

Physical media become obsolete

There is no doubt that certain traditional forms of the use of musical works are currently in crisis – compared to the last century, for example, there has been a significant drop in the results of sales of musical albums, which has reflected, among other things, in the reduction in the number of units that must be sold to receive platinum or gold certification. Under the old certification, a native artist had to sell up to 200,000 albums, whereas today only 30,000, a fraction of the previous number, is enough.

This is certainly linked to the new digital ways of using musical works. Since the World Wide Web has spread all over the world, we are literally a few mouse clicks away from accessing almost any song.

Although it may be illegal, easy access to songs on the Internet also has enormous advantages – for example, it eliminates location barriers with regard to access to culture, to which residents of smaller centers are faced on a daily basis, and which we all experienced first-hand when cinemas, theaters and museums were closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hacking as a last resort

However, the latest report shows that we have some reason to be optimistic – the scale of consumption of illegal content in the EU is steadily decreasing. With the exception of a temporary increase in movie piracy in the spring of 2020, the downward trend has also continued during the pandemic.

Unsurprisingly, among the most important factors influencing the reduction in the scale of use of pirated content are, according to the report, the awareness of the existence of a legal offer and the number of legal platforms offering films and television channels. Every year, the entertainment industries undergo rapid changes and adapt the way content is produced, sold and distributed to new conditions. Paid VOD services, offering access to legal content on demand in exchange for a single fee or as part of a subscription, are becoming effective competition for pirated content.

It is possible that this very factor is responsible for the surprisingly low statistics, compared to other EU countries, of piracy in Poland. As other studies indicate, up to six out of ten Poles use online subscription services (the Blue Media study “Poles’ finances in the time of the 2021 pandemic”). We most often use services offering access to films and series (39% of respondents), while we less frequently choose subscriptions providing access to music (15%), games and online press ( 11% each).

Looking at the data above, one could consider the fact that the most frequently pirated series in Poland in 2021 are clearly dominated by Disney Plus productions, which is a platform still inaccessible to consumers in our country. Apart from “WandaVision”, “Loki”, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier”, “Hawkeye”, “What if…?”, the six most illegally downloaded series only included the exceptionally popular Netflix series ” The Witcher”.

Therefore, it seems that Poles turn to illegal sources only as a last resort. We are already used to the fact that we can access any choice content literally on demand, any time of the day or night. However, we first check if the selected video, series or music is available on the platform we subscribe to. Only if we don’t find them there will we go looking for pirated content.

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