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Young people in the UK are watching less pirated content online than they have previously, according to a new report from the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO).
The IPO released its annual report on British IP Day, which took place on Wednesday, July 4.
The latest figures from the IPO’s online copyright infringement tracker, which measures the level of copyright infringement in the UK, are published on British IP Day each year. The UK has led the way in measuring online infringement in this way, with Australia, and more recently Canada, using the same method.
While overall levels of piracy in the UK have remained the same as they were in 2017, there has been a drop in the volume of young people accessing illicit material, the report said.
The IPO surveyed respondents aged 12 or older during March 2018, and questions referred to their behaviour in the three months before.
More than half of those aged 16-24 are now paying to access at least one subscription service, the report said. One quarter (25%) of those surveyed said they have accessed infringing material, compared to 27% last year. Among older age groups, the IPO did not see a decline.
Nick Court, temporary detective chief of the City of London’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit,, said: “It is encouraging to hear that consumers are favouring subscription streaming services and that illegal streaming is becoming less attractive, especially to the young”.
The results indicated that 15% of UK internet users accessed at least one item of online content illegally in the three-month period. This is in line with the IPO’s findings from the last two years, it said.
Those under 35 years of age account for two thirds of all infringers, with slightly more men than women (58%) opting to access pirated content.
The IPO noted that the UK has a lower overall infringement rate than both Canada (26%) and Australia (38%).
Although there has recently been a reduction in film piracy (from 21% to 19%) in the last year, the amount of TV and music being accessed illegally has increased.
Of the different content types, TV programmes had the highest infringement level of all at 23% (up from 22% last year) and music also rose slightly (from 18% to 19%). The amount of video game piracy remained stable at 16%.
For the first time, respondents were this year asked whether they have watched illicit sports content online—21% had.
Last year, the infringement of computer software topped the list at 26%. This year, it’s decreased to 20%.
The most common reason given for accessing pirated content was “it is free” (44% of respondents), overtaking last year’s favourite of “convenience” (a reason given this year by 41% of those surveyed).
Just under a quarter (22%) said that cheaper legal options would deter infringing behaviour and 21% said that if there was greater clarity about what is legal and what isn’t, it would discourage piracy.
Eddy Leviten, director general of the Alliance for IP, a coalition of trade associations with an interest in IP, said that those in Parliament must “understand the need to protect IP and support creators of all kinds”, and that the level of piracy in the UK is “still far too high”.
piracy, film and entertainment, online copyright, UKIPO, subscription services, online streaming, illicit material