Digital piracy in Europe: the new EUIPO report

The European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights of EUIPO (European Union Intellectual Property Office) on December 9th 2021 published a new report titled “Online Copyright Infringement In The European Union Music, Films And Tv (2017-2020), Trends And Drivers digital piracy, precisely on online consumption in Europe of copyright-infringing content.

The study took in consideration the period from January 2017 to December 2020 and used data on access to websites providing pirated content, such as pirated films, music and TV programs. Various method of access to website were taken into consideration, both from PC and mobile devices, like streaming, download, torrent and stream ripping.

The results: online copyright infringement continues to decline

The results of the study reveal that digital piracy continues to diminish, confirming the trend already highlighted in the 2019 study.

The report shows how from 2017 to 2020 the accesses to pirated content halved.

In particular, in 2020 online copyright infringement diminished by 34% compared to the previous year.

This downward trend can be found in the consumption of every type of content with different percentages.

For what concerns film piracy, despite a temporary spike between March and April 2020 caused by the lockdowns for the Covid-19 emergency, the report shows a decline by 51% compared to 2019.

As to other types of content, the study indicates a decrease by 41% for music piracy and by 27% for TV programs compared to 2019.

TV programs are indeed the most pirated content of 2020, with 70% of accesses to websites with copyright infringing content, followed by films (20%) and music (10%).

In general, in 2020 the access frequency to copyright infringing content was of 5,9 times per month, with significant differences between the Member States. Poland (3,8), Germany (4,0) and Finland (4,8) are the states with a lower access frequency. Italy is slightly under the European average, as Italian internet users access website with illicit content 5,5 times per month on average. Latvia has instead the highest access frequency, with an average access to pirated content of 14 times per month.

The report, moreover, questions the factors that could influence this downward trend, which is undoubtedly a positive signal but shows how the problem of digital piracy is far from over.

Among the socioeconomic factors that could influence the consumption of pirated content, the report indicated that the level of income per capita and the degree of income inequality can have a significant impact: high income pro capita and a low degree of income inequality seem to be linked to a lower consumption of pirated content.

Data and previous studies also highlight that the awareness of legal offers and the presence of a higher number of legal platforms could reduce the consumption of copyright infringing content.

Christian Archambeau, the Executive Director of EUIPO, stated on the matter that: “Piracy, and the associated loss of revenue it brings, is a serious concern and represents a direct threat to the creative industries. Despite the positive and continuous decline in the consumption of pirated content shown in the study, there is still much work to do to tackle the infringement of intellectual property rights online”.