Piracy Collapses As Legal Alternatives Do Their Job

Entertainment industry groups in Norway have spent years lobbying for tougher anti-piracy laws, finally getting their way earlier this month. But with fines and site blocking now on the agenda, an interesting trend has been developing. Quietly behind the scenes music piracy has collapsed to less than a fifth of the level it reached five years ago while movie and TV show downloading has been cut in half.

piracydownAt the start of July a brand new law aimed at reducing online piracy went live in Norway.

The product of years of effort, the legislation will allow registered anti-piracy groups to pursue individuals sharing copyrighted content.

The law also allows infringing sites to be blocked at the ISP level. Needless to say, The Pirate Bay is at the top of the list but it’s expected that all major torrent sites will become targets in the months to come.

Industry lobbying for these changes has taken place over many years, with the Ministry of Culture finally getting down to business a little over two years ago. However, it now becomes apparent that the need for these tough laws has been reducing massively.

According to a new report published by Ipsos, between 2008 and 2012 piracy of music, movies and TV shows collapsed in Norway.

The report shows that in 2008 almost 1.2 billion songs were copied without permission. However, by 2012 that figure had plummeted to 210 million, just 17.5% of its level four years earlier.

As expected, piracy of movies and TV shows in 2008 was at much lower levels than music, with 125 million movies and 135 million TV shows copied without permission. But by last year the figures for both had reduced by around half, to 65 million and 55 million respectively.

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So what is responsible for these significant drops in piracy? First of all this effect cannot be put down to anti-piracy campaigns. Only a tiny number of Norwegian file-sharers have been prosecuted in the past five years and only since July 1st has the law been loosened to allow that position to change.

So with scare tactics out of the way we’re left with the common sense approach yielding the best results.

“When you have a good legitimate offer, the people will use it,” says Olav Torvund, former law professor at the University of Oslo.

“There is no excuse for illegal copying, but when you get an offer that does not cost too much and is easy to use, it is less interesting to download illegally.”

The dramatic reduction in audio piracy suggests that the music industry has responded most effectively and that theory is backed up by stats in the report.

Of those questioned for the survey, 47% (representing around 1.7 million people) said they use a streaming music service such as Spotify. Even more impressively, just over half (corresponding to 920,000 people and 25% of Norwegian Internet users) said that they pay for the premium option.

While TV show piracy has reduced by half in four years, it actually peaked at the start of 2011 with 200 million shows copied without permission. However, since then with the introduction of legal alternatives, unauthorized copying is down more than 72%.

For movies the decline has been more steady but with the introduction of Netflix into Norway during October last year, figures for 2013 should be even more encouraging.

It’s likely, however, that the entertainment industry will put this year’s successes down to the new law. While that may have an effect it is clearly the legal offerings making the big differences in Norway.

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