Advanced Television

Spain: Digital piracy declines

October 26, 2021

By Colin Mann

In Spain, digital piracy experienced another decline in absolute figures, according to data from 2020, among the findings of the Observatory on Piracy and Digital Content Consumption Habits 2020, prepared by the independent consultancy GfK at the request of IP protection trade body La Coalición de creadores e industrias de contenidos and presented by the Minister of Culture and Sport at the National Archaeological Museum.

Another annual drop of 7 per cent in access to infringing content ws recorded, with 5.239 billion illegal content items accessed, marking a cumulative decrease of 10 per cent since 2018 and around 24 per cent since 2015.

The value of such content is €30.892 billion and the damage to the sector amounted to €2.416 billion in this period. The national revenue could have received €682 million during 2020, rising to €5.34 billion since 2012, and 130,000 direct and indirect jobs could have been created.


In terms of access to content, the book industry accounts for the most affected, with 33 per cent of individuals illicitly accessing content, followed by films (26 per cent), music (25 per cent), newspapers (25 per cent), football (23 per cent), series (21 per cent), video games (20 per cent), magazines (18 per cent) and music scores (5 per cent). The total value of content amounts to €30,892 million.

However, the sector as a whole will suffer €2.416 billion of damage caused by piracy in 2020, with music being the worst off with €482 million, films €322 million, series €138 million, books €240 million, video games €205 million, football €231 million, newspapers €345 million, magazines €426 million and sheet music €28 million.

Among the reasons for illegal access to content, four out of 10 consumers say they “do not know how to distinguish between legal and illegal platforms”, while 54 per cent claim they do so because they already pay for an Internet connection or pay-TV.

Other justifications such as “to avoid paying for content that I might not like later” and “because I can’t access the content in any other way, e.g. original version, with subtitles…” increased to 61 per cent and 37 per cent, respectively.

Other very relevant data, which is new in this edition as it is the first time it has been collected, is that eight out of 10 consumers thought it was “important” to be able to access cultural and entertainment content during the state of alarm, or that six out of 10 consider that “cultural creators and industries are a strategic sector for the economy and employment in our country”. The same percentage stated that there is, in our country, a sufficient legal offer to consume/access culture.


What stands out most is the increase in the use of social networks to access illegal content (from 23 per cent to 27 per cent in 2020): Facebook (55 per cent), YouTube (39 per cent), WhatsApp (34 per cent), Instagram (28 per cent) Telegram (25 per cent) or Twitter (24 per cent), a fact which, in the opinion of the content industries, makes it urgent to promote measures to reverse this situation. Online streaming is also growing (from 22 per cent in 2019 to 23 per cent in 2020), for the fifth consecutive year, and it is also clear that specific reforms are needed to curb it. In terms of how illegal content is accessed, there is a slight decrease in the share of search engines, from 62 per cent to 58 per cent in 2019, with Google remaining the most used: 9 out of 10 accesses to infringing content occur from its search results.

One of the most novel and disturbing data is related to equipment, 28 per cent of Internet users have an IPTV set-top box and 21 per cent have accessed a VPN for personal use. 40 per cent of internet users have made use of tutorials on how to access content. 18 per cent of these have consulted guides on how to download content, 7 per cent have sought help in obtaining or using platforms and 15 per cent have used manuals for both purposes. In terms of the type of tutorial, the most consulted are those concerning films/series (42 per cent), followed by music (41 per cent), video games (31 per cent), using a VPN (27 per cent), books (23 per cent), modifying a console (21 per cent), using an IPTV (17 per cent), football (13 per cent) and using card sharing (3 per cent).

In addition, 57 per cent of those who access illicit digital content and have tried to access it, found that the website no longer existed or was closed. 15 per cent of these consumers were shown a message explaining the reasons for the website’s closure, 11 per cent were offered another website to access the content, and 31 per cent were helped by a search engine to find a new illegal site.

The percentage of websites accessing illegal content that are financed by advertising remains above 90 per cent, as in previous years. Of all this advertising, 51 per cent corresponds to online gambling and betting sites, 41 per cent to online sales websites and 33 per cent to consumer products from prestigious brands. Therefore, insisting on the responsibility and collaboration of the advertising sector is essential to halt pirate portals’ financing models.

In addition to advertising, another source of income for illegal content websites is the collection of data that pirates fraudulently obtain from databases, which they then trade, fetching very high prices on the market. Thus, 65 per cent of internet users had to register as a user by giving up personal data (email address 55 per cent, mobile phone number 17 per cent, completing an opinion poll 17 per cent).


The effect of digital piracy on employment provides some worrying statistics. More than 20,000 new direct jobs could be created in a scenario without piracy, which would mean an increase of 24 per cent, which, plus indirect jobs, would amount to 130,318 more jobs in total.

As a result of piracy, the public coffers lost almost €424 million in VAT and more than €59 million in personal income tax, while the amount not collected by Social Security reached almost €200 million in contributions. In other words, the State has lost a total of €682 million in 2020 as a result of illegal access to content, for a cumulative total of 5.34 billion since 2012.


In the fight against piracy, almost eight out of 10 users consider that the most effective measure against illegal access is not allowing access to these websites, while the percentage of people who consider it effective to develop social awareness campaigns is decreasing (54 per cent). Likewise, 69 per cent of users consider it effective to sanction Internet providers, 57 per cent are in favour of sanctioning users with fines and 54 per cent believe that sanctioning offenders by restricting their use of the Internet would be more effective.

“We welcome the good figures in relation to piracy reduction; however, it is not yet over,” stated Miquel Iceta Llorens, Minister of Culture and Sports. “That is why we must adopt better and more protective copyright regulations, provide ourselves with better tools in order to fight piracy, strengthen the ones we already have, as well as keep creating social awareness in this regard.”

“In LaLiga and Mediapro we have the team, the technology and the knowledge to tackle this scourge that is audiovisual piracy, behind which the organizations that profit from the work of legitimate creators hide; unfortunately, we lack a legal tool that would allow us to block content in a fast and agile way in order to win this game,” commented Emilio Fernández del Castillo, director of LaLiga Content Protection.

¨As creators and cultural industries, we demand an additional effort to consolidate the progress made in recent years,” declared Carlota Navarrete, managing director of La Coalición. “On the one hand, we need the recently approved reform of the LPI to be applied swiftly, the imminent transposition of the European regulations affecting copyright protection to be adequate and, finally, we need to strengthen the structures and provide greater resources for defence and promotion of content, since it is the basis of a strategic sector for employment, economy and international competitiveness of our country”.

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