People who obtain movies and TV shows from the Internet through unauthorized and often illegal channels would actually prefer not to do if they were given the chance. That’s one of the findings of a new survey into consumer habits which reveals that although lower cost is often cited as a tool for reducing piracy, three other issues are driving people to break the law – convenience, choice and availability.
Following years of wrangling, last month the Danish government officially announced its new strategy for dealing with unauthorized file-sharing.
But against the wishes of rightsholders and in stark contrast with aggressive “3 strikes” style schemes being introduced elsewhere, Denmark said there would be no mechanisms to bully citizens away from file-sharing and into buying media.
Instead, the government announced its “Pirate Package”, an initiative that moves the emphasis away from punishing end users and towards the development and creation of better legal offerings in order to attract them.
Today we can report on the findings of a new study which appear to show that the government made the right decision in opting to educate and develop rather than punish.
YouGov found that just under one in seven Danes obtained unauthorized copies of movies and TV shows online last year. Men and young consumers were the most prolific consumers of illicit content with around 30% of 15-29 year-olds engaging in the activity compared to just 4% of 50-74 year-olds.
But instead of revealing a nation of hardcore and unmovable pirates, the YouGov survey of 2,000 citizens found that of those currently obtaining movies and TV shows from unauthorized online sources, the majority would prefer to do so via legal means.
“Our study shows that Danish pirates would actually prefer to stay within the law,” says Ida Alexandra Mykland, Senior Consultant at YouGov. “But the group indicates that the need for convenience and a high degree of accessibility is simply so great that they choose to access illegal material instead.”
Even among the 28% who said they were happy to continue obtaining movies and TV shows from unauthorized sources, pricing issues were trumped by three core service-related issues – convenience, choice and availability of content.
When justifying consumption of illicit movies, pirates cited convenience as the main reason. When asked about TV shows, swift access to the latest series was key.
Interestingly the issue of price didn’t come in the top three reasons why people pirate. However, when the pirates were asked what could be done to reduce the consumption of illicit content it was a different story.
A significant 72% said that movie and TV show downloading could be reduced by lowering the prices of official content, with 47% stating that offering the latest material could also reduce piracy.
“It is paradoxical that the pirates on one hand do not indicate the price as the main reason why they violate the law, while they also say that lowering the price would be the best way to reduce piracy,” says Mykland. “This may be because consumers generally expect lower prices to download or stream movies online.”
Interestingly, the survey also showed at pirates and paying customers are often one and the same. In the 15-20 year-old group that bought or rented TV shows legally in the last year, 47% also downloaded or streamed illegal content.
Finally, and perhaps in response to the image created by Big Content that their businesses are being ruined by piracy, the study showed that respondents have a distorted view of exactly how widespread piracy is. Three quarters believe that more than 25% of Danes are pirates – the actual number is just 15%.