Study: The Number of Internet Pirates in Europe is Decreasing

The Institute for Information Law (IViR) of the University of Amsterdam recently published the Global Online Piracy Study, a research project that surveys the acquisition and consumption of different types of online media – music, film, series, books, and games – via various legal and illegal channels (with the latter comprising downloads and streaming from illegal sources, including technical devices, and stream ripping).

Respondents to the survey exceeded 35 thousand consumers, aged 14 and older, hailing from 13 countries – Brazil, France, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, and the UK. Among the European respondents were individuals that had undertaken a similar questionnaire a few years earlier; this has allowed the researchers to chart the evolution of content acquisition over time in Europe.

A key takeaway from the study: the number of internet pirates in Europe has decreased between 2014 and 2017. Let’s break it down.

The decrease was observed in six out of the seven studied European countries; Germany was the only exception. The decrease is strongest for music, films, and series. The increase in Germany was driven by an increase in the gaming category.

The following chart depicts the share of respondents that acquired or accessed content illegally:

Global Online Piracy Study illegal aggregate

At the same time, the per capita expenditure on legal content has increased since 2014.

Individuals pirate mainly because of the price: in all the countries that were surveyed, the cost of online content was named as the primary motivation for using illegal channels. What’s more, the research showed a lower ratio of pirates per legal users is tied to a higher per capita income, i.e. poor countries tend to have more pirates.

Pirates consume a lot of content, pirates also rarely pirate: the crushing majority of pirates (more than 95%) also consume legal content at twice the rate of those who only use legal channels.

Finally, there seems to be a lot of discrepancy in piracy rates around the world: the share of individuals that downloaded or streamed content illegally was as low as 23% in Japan and as high as 84% in Indonesia.

The full report can be downloaded here.