Every year the Intellectual Property Office releases a report on the state of online piracy in the UK, based on figures from its Online Copyright Infringement (OCI) tracker. Today the IPO released the eighth annual report, and it found that while overall piracy numbers hadn't changed there has been a rise in TV and music being accessed illegally.
The report claims that around 15 per cent of internet users over the age of 12 (6.5 million people) had consumed at least one piece of pirated content in the three months before March 2018. As ever the report focuses on the usual suspects (TV, film, music, software, books, and video games) alongside the newly added 'sports' category - no doubt in response the increasing number of people supposedly using dodgy software to access illegal football streams. Apparently the new category mean an overall increase of 0.9 per cent.
Film piracy has reduced quite a bit in the past year, from 21 per cent to 19 per cent. Software also dropped quite a bit going from 26 per cent down to 20 per cent, and video games remained static at 16 per cent. Unfortunately it's not all good news for the rightsholders of the world. Music and TV piracy each rose by one per cent, to 19 per cent and 23 per cent respectively. eBooks rose by two per cent, from 11 to 13 per cent. Sports can't be compared to previous years, obviously, but it has the second highest level of piracy at 21 per cent.
The IPO also reported a drop in use of BitTorrent among infringers (11 per cent to 7), while Kodi remained static at 12 per cent. Those figures also show that infringers are quite fond of legal services to, with largest sources of content being YouTube (59 per cent), Amazon (38 per cent), Netflix (33 per cent), iPlayer (29 per cent) and Spotify (24 per cent). That said people who do things 100 per cent above board tend to use those services more, with 44 per cent using Amazon, 39 per cent using Netflix, 32 per cent using iPlayer, and 28 per cent using Spotify. The only exception at the top of the list is YouTube, with a score of 53 per cent.
As for the reason why people did their infringing, the usual reasons are here. Because it's free was at the top (44 per cent), followed by convenience (41 per cent) and then speed (38 per cent). The 'try before I buy' logic is next, but the numbers drop all the way down to 15 per cent. "It's free" hasn't changed, but convenience had dropped from 45 per cent and speed grew from 37 per cent. The IPO also noted that people who says "because I can" dropped from 18 per cent to 13 per cent this year.
The IPO noted that the availability of legal services makes them popular amongst pirates and non-pirates alike, but while praising the findings Sam Gyimah, Minister for IP warned that the government shouldn't become too complacent.
“The variety of legitimate services now available to consumers is extraordinary and our world-leading creative industries have made great strides in meeting the demands of viewers and fans, so there really is no excuse for the ongoing use of illegal services,” Gyimah said.
“Today’s findings are a positive step forward in stamping out online copyright infringement, but we cannot afford to be complacent. We are committed to tackling piracy and helping this vibrant sector go from strength to strength through our Creative Industries Sector Deal, a major part of our modern Industrial Strategy.”