Survey: Young Europeans’ online piracy ‘stable’
June 9, 2022
By Colin Mann
The results of the 2022 EU-wide survey (IP Youth Scoreboard) on the perceptions of IP among young Europeans have been revealed.
The survey, from the European Observatory, aims to shed light on the latest trends in the use of legal and illegal online sources among Europeans aged 15 to 24, and their perceptions and behaviours towards counterfeit goods.
Reflecting the post-pandemic context, the survey confirmed that 37 per cent of young people bought one or several fake products intentionally in the last 12 months, a significant increase compared to the previous results.
The counterfeit products that young people most commonly buy intentionally are clothes and accessories (17 per cent), followed by footwear (14 per cent) electronic devices (13 per cent), and hygiene, cosmetics, personal care and perfumes (12 per cent).
Intentional piracy remains stable, with 21 per cent of young consumers (one in five) acknowledging they accessed pirated content on purpose in the last 12 months.
However, access from legal sources is gaining ground among the younger generations:
- 60 per cent claimed to have not used, played, downloaded or streamed content from illegal sources in the past year, compared to 50 per cent in 2019 and 40 per cent in 2016, thus confirming the trend.
Price and availability continue to be the main reasons for buying fake products and accessing pirated content intentionally. However, social influences, such as the behaviour of family, friends or acquaintances, are gaining significant ground.
For most types of content from illegal sources, dedicated websites were the most popular access channel, especially for films (63 per cent) and TV series (59 per cent). For music, apps were the most popular channel through which to access pirated content (39 per cent), while for photos, social media was the most popular channel (36 per cent).
Around half of those who said they had accessed content from illegal sources said they would stop doing so if they were to experience a cyberthreat (41 per cent) or cyberfraud (40 per cent), while 24 per cent said they might do so if they were to experience poor-quality content. Among those who had bought fake products, around a third (31 per cent) said they would stop if they were to experience a poor-quality counterfeit, and around a quarter said they would do so if they were to experience cyberfraud (23 per cent) or a cyberthreat (21 per cent), or if they were to experience an unsafe or dangerous product (22 per cent). A similar proportion said that a better understanding of negative effects on the environment (19 per cent) or society (17 per cent) would stop them.
The intentional use of illegal sources remained above average among males and young people with a high level of education. At the same time, the prevalence of this behaviour varied significantly by country, ranging from 29 per cent in Belgium to 12 per cent in Germany.
The main types of digital content sought from illegal sources were films (61 per cent), TV series/shows (52 per cent) and, to a lesser degree, music (36 per cent), software (35 per cent), games (33 per cent), live sports events (35 per cent), and e-books (32 per cent). The proportion of respondents who relied mainly on legal sources for any type of content was consistently below 60 per cent.
For most types of content from illegal sources, dedicated websites were the most popular channel through which to access them, especially for films (63 per cent) and TV series (59 per cent). For music, apps were the most popular channel by which to access pirated content (39 per cent), while for photos, social media was the most popular channel (36 per cent).
The main reason respondents gave for having intentionally accessed content from illegal sources was the lower cost of the content compared with content from legal sources, mentioned by over half of them (55 per cent). This was followed by the desired content only being available through illegal sources (25 per cent), and a larger choice being available through such sources. Notably, the 2022 survey results point to an increase in the proportion of respondents saying ‘friends or other people I know do this’ (from 12 per cent to 17 per cent), highlighting the increased importance of social influences on behaviour.
The availability of more affordable content from legal sources was the main factor that young people said might make them stop intentionally accessing content from illegal sources: almost half of them (47 per cent) mentioned this. A similar proportion said they might stop if they were to experience a cyberthreat (41 per cent) or cyberfraud (40 per cent), while 29 per cent said they might do so if they risked punishment, and 24 per cent said they might do so if they were to experience poor-quality content.
Among respondents who did not know whether they had accessed content from illegal sources, a majority (69 per cent) continued to say that they could not distinguish between legal and illegal sources, while 26 per cent said they did not care if a source was legal or illegal. While the former figure was lower than in 2019 (by 15 percentage points), the proportion saying they did not care was higher (by 8 percentage points).
The study is the third edition of the Youth Scoreboard series, which was first released by the European Union Intellectual Property Office in 2016 and then again in 2019.