Piracy is a big deal according to rights holders, who will task many hours of effort and much money into preventing people from being able to access their content via illicit channels. But a new study claims legal options are the best way to combat would-be pirates.
We checked, and this was not written by a Captain Obvious, PhD. Though it certainly feels like it.
Instead it comes from João Pedro Quintais and Joost Poort at the University of Amsterdam, and it suggests that the key drivers towards reducing privacy is ensuring that content is both available and affordable.
The research itself included data from surveys filled out by 35,000 respondents in 13 different counties, and discovered that self-reported piracy rates dropped between 2014 and 2017 in all surveyed European counties. Except for Germany.
The paper also looked at previous literature in great detail, discussing the various rates of anti-piracy enforcement - concluding that enforcement is one factor to help reduce piracy but as expected it isn't a magical anti-piracy cure. In fact they found there was no conclusive evidence that it's effective.
So they had to look for the cause of the drop, and in doing so found plenty of clues that it's to do with availability of legal content.
The research found that piracy dropped as people increased their spending on legal content, and that countries with lower gross national incomes were more likely to have higher rates of piracy. 95% of self-proclaimed pirates also claimed they were legal consumers and only turned to piracy because they either couldn't access or afford to access content legally.
Of course this research was dependant on people who were willing to admit they pirate content, which some people may well be reluctant to do, but the researchers believe that the way to further decrease piracy rates lies in focussing resources and legislation the right way. A way that encourages legal access to content. I doubt the copyright holders will be very pleased about that, especially with that growing trend that sees them pulling content away from existing streaming services and into a service they alone would profit from.
Unfortunately, as obvious as this conclusion may seem to some, TorrentFreak points out that the study doesn't actually provide any hard evidence that proves recent piracy drops are caused by increased legal consumption - which the researchers admitted was true.