Internet Pirates More Likely to Pay Than Law-Abiding Counterparts

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File-sharers are often portrayed as destroyers of the creative industries but new research suggests that isn't the case. According to the survey, 60% of music pirates also buy music, a figure that drops to 44% among non-sharers. Movie pirates continue the trend by being much more likely to pay than their law-abiding counterparts.

Each year, The Internet Foundation In Sweden (IIS) produces a report titled ‘Swedes and the Internet.’ As its name suggests, the report aims to shine light on how people behave online.

Covering issues from social media to smartphones, gambling, and of course, content consumption and file-sharing, the survey of 3,000 citizens aged 11-years-old and up has provided interesting insights in previous years. 2016 is no different.

“We continue to use the Internet to listen to music and watch movies. Eight out of ten listen to music and just over six out of ten watch movies. This is most popular among the young where almost everyone is doing it,” the report reads.

“Youtube is the most popular site for all ages. It begins in the pre-school years and almost all four-year-olds are using Youtube, but also the oldest are frequent users.

“With the arrival of streaming services more have begun to pay for music and film, but nevertheless file-sharing remains around 20 percent of the population, which it has done for almost ten years.”

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But while the survey indicates that peer-to-peer file-sharing has remained static, other areas of unauthorized content consumption have been on the increase. Notably, web-based streaming services are gaining traction, particularly among lower age groups.

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But of course, people obtaining content for free is only part of the puzzle. People paying for official online services has been on the increase since their inception. In 2011, for example, 15% of the population streamed music. That had increased to 38%, 42% and 44% in 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively.

In 2015, after a late start for video, 28% were subscribing to a Netflix-like service and this year that figure reached 38%. Roughly speaking, four-out-of-ten now pay for a music or video streaming service but it is the young (and traditionally the most likely to pirate) who are the most enthusiastic customers.

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In fact, IIS says that those who engage in illegal file-sharing and unauthorized streaming are also more likely to pay.

“File-sharers previously bought at least as many CDs as those who do not file-share and today we can see that it is more common for file-sharers to subscribe to streaming services for music and movies than those who do not,” the organization explains.

“60 percent of file-sharers pay for music streaming services, compared with 39 percent of those who do not share files and 44 percent of the population.

“The ratio is similar for those who use the sites where you can download movies for free. 53 percent of those pay for a Netflix-like streaming service, compared with 34 percent of those who are not downloading movies for free,” IIS notes.

The figures are an improvement on those reported in last year’s survey.

In 2015, 58% of music pirates put their hands in their pockets to pay versus just 39% of non-filesharers. The figures for the movie sector were 46% and 24% respectively.

The full report can be downloaded here (pdf, Swedish)

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