It is often said that the only workable long-term solution to the piracy problem is making content widely available at a fair price. A new study from Finland finds that an increasing number of people are indeed turning to legitimate options. While overall piracy levels are generally static, tech-savvy young people are again bucking the trend.
Finnish market research company Taloustutkimus Oy has published its Copyright Barometer report for 2021. It aims to shine light on the content consumption trends of 15 to 79-year-olds and corresponding attitudes towards copyright and piracy.
Overall, nine out of ten Finns cited copyright as an important issue with only 2% finding it either very or fairly useless. Almost half perceive copyright as enabling (49%), with just 12% describing it as restrictive.
Given that increasing numbers of citizens are becoming creators themselves, it is perhaps unsurprising that people are learning more about copyright and its wider implications.
Last year, 38% of respondents said copyright was an easy concept to understand but in the 2021 report, that figure increases to 44%. Perhaps counterintuitively, last year 22% of respondents said that copyright was difficult to understand, a figure that increased to 26% this year.Attitudes to Piracy
Given that almost half the population easily understands what copyright means and the majority do not pirate at all, it’s no surprise that 59% believe that illegally accessing copyrighted material online is unacceptable.
On the other hand, more than a quarter (26%) believe that it is absolutely fine to watch pirated content on sites like YouTube with around 11% stating that accessing pirated movies, TV shows and eBooks from the wider internet is acceptable too. Overall, 92% of respondents believe that creators of content should be compensated for their work, which clearly encompasses some of the pirates too.
The big question then is whether respondents’ attitudes correspond to what they actually do online when it comes to the consumption of media.Legal and Pirated Consumption Both Increase
The good news for copyright holders is that access to legal content is up significantly since last year. In 2020 around 53% of respondents said that they had at least one legal online content service available in their household but in 2021 that increased to 62%.
Half of the respondents also claimed that someone in their household had purchased music, movies, TV series or computer games from an online store this year, that’s up from 42% in 2020.Illegal Streaming and Downloading
Among all respondents, 11% believe that downloading pirated content from the Internet is acceptable, with just 5% stating that uploading content for others to consume is acceptable too.
Among those who pirate, the most common form of activity was either accessing content from illegal sites (such as streaming services) or watching previously downloaded unlicensed content. Around 6% admitted to downloading pirated music, movies, TV shows or computer games.
While engagement in pirate services across all groups remains relatively static, tech-savvy people are bucking the trend, particularly those in the 15 to 24-year-old bracket.
Around a quarter (25%) of respondents in this group said that they (or a family member) watched or listened to pirated content via an online service in the last year, with 16% admitting to having downloaded pirated content.
Of interest is that despite other reports stating that the coronavirus pandemic has caused increases in pirated content consumption, the majority of the respondents in Finland claimed otherwise. Around 72% of all ‘pirate’ respondents said that their use of illegal services hadn’t increased while a quarter couldn’t say either way. Of those under 25, just 8% said their use of pirate services had gone up.Responses to ‘Industry’ Questions
Given the very specific nature of some of the questions in this year’s report, it’s evident that copyright holders are looking to support their position on a number of hot button topics, from proper compensation for rightsholders across streaming services to pressure on search engines to take action against infringing content.
The report’s summary is also presented in a fashion that suggests that the key dissenters against tougher measures are younger respondents who are more likely to use pirated services.
For example, more than three-quarters (77%) of all respondents agreed that search engines should be obliged to display legal platforms in their results above those that are unlicensed. Just 6% disagreed, with the majority of dissent coming from those who use pirate services.
Around 76% further agreed that YouTube should compensate music and video producers in line with the rates paid by other services such as Spotify. Again, it’s highlighted that 7% disagreed, with the majority of those coming from groups that tend to pirate content.
YouTube is also mentioned in a question about copyright takedowns and enforcement, with almost three-quarters (71%) agreeing that online content sharing platforms will “more efficiently and permanently” remove unauthorized video and music from their services in the future.
When it comes to punishments for copyright infringement offenses, 71% of all respondents agreed that people who upload unlicensed content should be obliged to pay compensation to rightsholders “according to the extent of the infringement.” Just 9% disagreed with that assertion, with those who illegally download content making up the bulk.
Online anonymity is also addressed in respect of online infringement, with two-thirds (66%) of respondents agreeing that copyright holders must be able to find out who is infringing their rights anonymously on the internet. Just 12% disagreed with the assertion, with a prevalence among respondents who consume content illegally from pirate services.