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Online piracy is declining among young internet users

By | Published on Thursday 31 October 2019

Piracy / Hacker

Online piracy among young internet users continues to decline as legal music, video and gaming platforms become the primary sources of entertainment for 15-24 year olds. Or at least that’s according to the latest piracy report from the European Union’s Intellectual Property Office.

Of course, online piracy hasn’t gone away, and – like legitimate digital content services – piracy has evolved, meaning that copyright owners sometimes have to start looking in different places to spot the unlicensed use of their IP. However, the rise of the streaming services does mean that an increasing number of younger internet users are more likely to tap legit platforms over piracy services.

Unsurprisingly, the 15-24 year olds surveyed in all 28 countries of the EU were heavy users of online entertainment services. 97% stream or download music, 94% movies and TV series, and 92% games. 82% accessed educational content online, and 79% other TV shows and sporting events. Newspaper and magazine websites were utilised by 59% and ebooks 56%.

Of those surveyed, about a third still accessed at least some of their online content from unlicensed sources, but that’s 5% less than the last time the EUIPO did a study of this kind in 2016. And about a third of that third insisted that their use of unlicensed content services was unintentional.

This slow decline in the use of piracy platforms by young consumers was most marked in music. Of those intentionally accessing content from unlicensed services, only 39% were getting music this way, down 17% from the 2016 survey.

The justifications for deliberately using piracy platforms remain pretty much the same, a key one being the unavailability of content on legit platforms.

That excuse, of course, is pretty weak in 2019 when it comes to music, given how many tracks are available for free on services like Spotify. And while there are still some not insignificant gaps in the digital catalogue when it comes to older music, plenty of tracks not officially digitised by the music industry are nevertheless available on YouTube and SoundCloud.

However, with movies and TV shows, content is not always available, either because it’s distributed exclusively on the rival service to the one any one user has signed up to or – just as often – because it is yet to be made available at all online in the user’s home country.

All in all, while online piracy is still very much there, things do seem to be moving in the right direction, and in music more than any other strand of the entertainment business.

And for all the lobbying and lawsuits in the 2000s, much of that has been achieved via the launch of easily accessible catalogue rich streaming services with free options, family plans and student discounts to hook in younger internet users.

You can download the full report here.