Portugal: Government action cuts piracy website traffic

A report from online brand and content protection specialist INCOPRO indicates that Portugal’s regulatory site blocking orders have successfully reduced use of large-scale piracy websites by 69.7 per cent.

Site blocking has become a recognised practice in countries across Europe over the past few years. In 2015, a memorandum of understanding was reached in Portugal between local rightsholders, internet service providers (ISPs) and the government according to which access to copyright infringing sites can be blocked by ISPs following an order of governmental body IGAC (Inspeção Geral das Atividades Culturais).

The new report was commissioned by the Motion Picture Association (MPA) jointly with Associação Portuguesa de Defesa de Obras Audiovisuais (FEVIP) – the Portuguese Defence Association of Audiovisual Works. The findings show that, following the implementation of site blocking orders between November 2015 and June 2016, there was a significant reduction in users accessing infringing websites. The study was completed with a global control group as a point of comparison to what may have happened had the sites not been blocked.

Additional key highlights of the report show:

  • Out of the top 250 unauthorised sites in Portugal, 65 were blocked and decreased in usage by a total of 56.6 per cent in the time frame, but increased by 3.9 per cent globally.
  • Usage of the top 250 unauthorised sites in Portugal has decreased overall by 9.3 per cent; however, the global control group showed a 30.8 per cent increase globally.
  • The usage of the 30 blocked Portuguese language sites that are listed in the top 250 unauthorised sites in Portugal has decreased by 41.8 per cent, while they increased by 39.2 per cent in Brazil.

The findings of this study are in line with similar reports undertaken in the United Kingdom demonstrating that site blocking is effective and decreases the use of infringing sites.

“We were incredibly excited to continue our work with the MPA, and that we are seeing such positive results,” commented Helen Saunders, Head of Intelligence and Operations at INCOPRO. “It’s important to highlight that the impact of these blocks can be felt not just in Portugal, but globally. It’s fantastic to see that more countries are starting to take action against piracy, and are getting great results. We hope that this report will inspire even more geographies to take similar action in a concerted effort to safeguard the global entertainment industry.”

“Piracy continues to be a serious threat to the health of a European core copyright-intensive sector that employs 11 million people and generates €914 billion in economic activity,” advised Stan McCoy, President and Managing Director of the MPA EMEA. “Yet research shows that this problem can be curbed. At the MPA, we take a three-pronged approach: make legal content easy to access, engage consumers about the negative impact of piracy, and deter piracy through the appropriate legal avenues. All stakeholders must work together as joint stewards of the creative ecosystem.

“All forms of piracy generate huge losses for every player in the value chain, including authors, artists, editors, producers, moviegoers, distributors, providers of pay TV and audiovisual services on demand, and the government,” added Paulo Santos, Managing Director of FEVIP. “This is why it is important to work with all these players as they are directly interested in this issue and have a common and collaborative interest in taking actions against large scale commercial operators that make money off the back of the creators. The MOU signed in 2015 between IGAC, collective management entities, FEVIP, ISPs and other entities, within the applicable legal framework, implemented this joint vision through a simple, feasible mechanism of action, being therefore of the greatest relevance in the fight against piracy, and in the interests of all.”

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