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Online piracy down as streaming takes off

The meteoric rise of streaming services such as Spotify and Netflix may be having a chilling effect on illegal copyright infringement according to research commissioned by the UK’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) which has revealed a fall in online infringement and a steep rise in consumer use of streaming.

Kantar Media’s Online Copyright Infringement Tracker, commissioned by the UK IPO, has shown that over half (52 per cent) of Internet users consuming content online now use streaming services. At the same time, downloading content is becoming comparatively less popular (39 per cent).

Respondents who stream cited convenience and cost as two of the main reasons for doing so. Spotify, the music streaming giant, has seen a 3 per cent rise in new UK users in just 12 months.

The rise of streaming has coincided with a small but significant drop in online copyright infringement. For the first time, those consuming content from exclusively legal sources has risen to 44 per cent, a 3 per cent increase since the end of 2015.

Despite this positive trend, online infringement continues to have a major impact on the creative industries, with music and film hit hardest.

Kantar estimates that over 78 million music tracks were accessed illegally online in the past three months with TV shows and films illegally accessed more than 50 million times in the same period. One in 20 Internet users are exclusively consuming illegal content.

“Online copyright infringement has been a running sore for the UK’s creative industries for far too long,” declared Baroness Neville-Rolfe, Minister for Intellectual Property. “I am extremely pleased to see that there has been a decline in infringement and that consumers appear to be turning towards legitimate streaming en masse.”

“There is, however, more to do. This government is committed to fighting against IP theft in all its forms and supporting the hard work of our creative industries. I am pleased that we are joining forces internationally to improve our knowledge of online infringement.”

Eddy Leviten, Director General of the Alliance for Intellectual Property, said it was encouraging to see that more UK consumers were choosing legitimate content sources, thereby supporting creators and creative businesses. “However, illegal content is still finding an outlet in UK homes and that’s why we need better collaboration to drive down availability and access to pirate websites. Government has a crucial role to play if the UK’s creative industries are to continue to grow.”

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