With a long history that pre-dates the Internet, computer fans in Sweden have always been in the thick of various file-sharing scenes. If they weren’t sharing discs at swap meets, Swedes were sharing content via now-ancient BBS systems.
When the Internet came along things began to take off, but it wasn’t until the launch of The Pirate Bay in 2003 that Sweden was catapulted onto the world stage. However, after emerging as some of the world’s most passionate file-sharers, a new study has found that interest in the activity is trending downwards, despite 91% of the population being online.
Titled “Swedes and the Internet” the survey was carried out by The Internet Foundation In Sweden (IIS). The annual report aims to give a broad view of how local citizens use the Internet and reveals that not only is file-sharing on the wane, but consumption of legal content is maintaining its upward trend.
This year just 18% of respondents said that they share files on the Internet. According to IIS, the decrease is largest among those aged between 12 and 25, but in the 36 to 55 year-old group little has changed.
2015’s result represents a decrease on the 19% reported in last year’s survey and the second year in a row that file-sharing decreased in Sweden. 2014 marked the first drop in years, with 21% having been sustained since 2011.
Notably, one has to track back to the last decade in order to match the low-level of file-sharers currently active in 2015. But alongside file-sharing’s loss comes authorized content’s gain and there’s even an interesting twist for those looking to demonize Sweden’s remaining pirates.
In 2015, 70% of Internet users reported watching film and video content online, that’s up from the 52% in last year’s survey. A total of 40% of those who watch films online claim to pay for their content too, that’s up from just 14% in 2014.
According to the report Netflix is the major player, with 28% of the population watching the service, increasing to 47% among 26 to 35 year-olds.
Music remains popular too, with 77% listening to tracks on the Internet and just over half of all respondents (54%) paying for the privilege. The figures are impressive, having increased from 38% in 2014. In 2011 those paying sat at just 15%.
But customers come in all shapes and sizes and in common with similar surveys elsewhere, the IIS survey has found that pirates are some of the entertainment industry’s best customers.
In 2015, The Internet Foundation found that those who file-share movies illegally are also more likely to pay for legal video. In fact, 46% of pirates put their hands in their pockets to pay versus just 24% of non-filesharers.
In the music market the story is similar. When it comes to spending money on content, 58% of music pirates say they do so. Among non-filesharers the number drops to just 39%.
The report can be downloaded here (Swedish, PDF, 133 pages)