UK online piracy increases slightly but remains stable over five years * TorrentFreak


Each year, the UK government releases a new edition of its online copyright infringement tracker, which reveals the results of an annual survey of the pirating habits of people aged 12 and over.

The UK Intellectual Property Office has just published the results of the 11th wave which took place in 2021.

A different methodology has been deployed since Wave 9 with the aim of producing solid results and additional information. As in previous years, this is a mixture of good and bad news for rights holders.

Key points in summary

Overall content consumption (via legal and illegal sources) has increased during this wave in a number of categories, especially in content streaming which has reached the highest level seen so far. Consumption of live sports has also rebounded to pre-COVID levels and there have been slight increases in the number of those who download music, movies and TV shows. In most cases, however, the numbers were still down from the pre-COVID-19 peak.

Once again, the main drivers for accessing content online were the choice and variety of content offered, the ability to access content immediately, and the cost.

In terms of illicit consumption, overall violations for all content categories stood at 25%, compared to 23% reported in the 10th wave of tracking. Although this represents a slight increase, overall levels of infringements have remained relatively stable over the past five years, meaning that on average a quarter of consumers still use illegal sources, in whole or in part.

Live music, movies, TV, sports

However, this is not all bad news for rights holders. In music, for example, the number of consumers who only access content from legal sources (downloading and streaming) has increased to 85% (+ 3%) with only 2% using exclusively illegal sources.

When it comes to film consumption, 80% of those surveyed consumed only from legal sources, 17% consumed from a mixture of legal and illegal, and a stubborn 3% refused to consume anything. whether legally, all unchanged since 2020. The overall level of infringement has also remained. static at 20%.

While not much has changed in the world of TV piracy, the situation has not worsened and there are signs of a slight improvement. While overall levels remained stable at 14% in 2021, the number of consumers accessing content only from legal platforms rose to 86% (+ 1%) with just 2% downloading or streaming from illegal sources only.

Live sports are an unusual category as the availability of sporting events during the COVID-19 lockdown has been drastically reduced. In 2020, only 8% engaged in live sport overall, but in 2021 there was a significant increase to 15%, almost double the previous year. Interestingly, however, overall infringement levels fell from 37% in 2020 to 29% in 2021.

Video games and other content

The overall offense remained stable in the video game category at 11% in 2021, with just 2% of consumers accessing content only from illegal sources. In software, global counterfeiting has increased from 20% in 2020 to 23% in 2021, while e-book counterfeiting has decreased from 3% from the previous year to 14%.

Global counterfeiting of digital magazines has also declined in this wave, from 28% in 2020 to 27% in 2021, but the same cannot be said for audiobooks, which have fallen from 14% in 2020 to 24% in 2021. .

“Opportunities for behavior change”

In addition to tracking consumption, the UK government’s annual report also seeks to highlight areas where hackers of all kinds can be encouraged to consume more legal content. In the previous wave, the report found that hinting at the financial impact of counterfeiting on individuals within industries was more engaging than talking about industries as a whole.

There isn’t a big change in the 2021 report, but the study does add a few nuances.

“This year’s communication tests were successful in determining which individuals to focus on and showed that participants had difficulty sympathizing with great artists, producers, executives, etc. who are considered to have a lot of money. and success. On the contrary, talking about small artists or small production companies as well as people employed by background industries elicited more positive responses, ”the report reads.

Interestingly, the previous report (made just three months after the start of the pandemic) described a “disappointing response” to messages related to the impact of COVID-19 on the creative industries. This time, things had changed.

“A year later, however, with the pandemic underway at the time of research, the messages of continued pressure on funds and reports of job losses were considered some of the most impactful messages and brought some participants to reconsider their behavior. “

Concerns (or lack of) among hackers

In an effort to deter hackers, the entertainment industries, particularly those in film, television and broadcasting, have in recent years launched a narrative of malware and other cyber threats. The study found that while these worry some less experienced offenders, those who regularly infringe are much less concerned.

Without neglecting the potential threats, more experienced users have said that they have established trust in the sources they use and that after not having encountered any issues, feel safe to continue using them.

“The notion of increased cybersecurity threats during the pandemic does not appear to increase concerns, with many saying they will remain vigilant and know the warning signs of unreliable content to watch out for,” the report reads. .

When presented with what-if scenarios regarding a potential application, the most effective proposition to get participants to reconsider was the possibility that ISPs could send them warnings and possibly shut down Internet access, followed by a “stricter enforcement and enforcement of fines”.

At the time of writing, a new ISP warning campaign seems unlikely following the last business abandonment in 2019. Fines (or more specifically settlement letters) are sent to the UK but cover currently a very small amount of content sent by a handful of rights holders.

The full report is available here


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