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The percentage of Internet users in Europe that occasionally downloads or streams music, films, series, books or games illegally, e.g. via The Pirate Bay or PopcornTime, has decreased between 2014 and 2017. This decrease is strongest for music, films and series. Meanwhile, expenditure on legal content has increased since 2014. This follows from the Global Online Piracy Study that the Institute for Information Law (IViR) of the University of Amsterdam published today.
Online piracy

In six out of the seven European countries that were studied, a decrease in the number of pirates was observed: France, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Note that this smaller group of pirates downloads and stream more illegal content than three years ago. Only in Germany, a slight increase in the numbers of users of illegal sources is observed, due to small increase for games.

Price-dominant motivation

Together with Ecorys, IViR conducted consumer surveys in thirteen countries. For all these countries – also the ones outside Europe – price turned out to be the primary motivation for using illegal channels. Nevertheless, more than 95% of Internet pirates also consume legal content, and their median legal consumption is typically twice that of those who only use legal channels. In each country in the study, the per capita expenditure on music, films, series, games and books increased in the past three years.

Differences between countries

The share of the internet population that downloaded or streamed content illegally in the past year varies strongly between the countries in the study: from 23% in Japan to 84% in Indonesia. One has to bear in mind, though, that in Indonesia, only a quarter of the population is online. After Japan, Germany has the smallest percentage of pirates, followed by the United Kingdom and The Netherlands.

Purchasing power turns out to be a very important driver for both legal consumption and the number of pirates: the higher per capita income levels, the lower the percentage of pirates per legal user. A convincing link to the availability of enforcement measures was not found.

About the study

The study was made possible by financial support from Google and builds on previous studies for the Dutch Government and the European Commission. In the latter, a comparable survey was used in six European countries, as a result of which time trends can be studied and there is even the unique possibility of following a few thousand respondents over time. For the countries outside Europe, i.e. Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan and Thailand, such a comparison over time is not possible.