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Why are young people logging on to internet piracy sites?

Katie Wright on what's needed to put a halt to illegal downloading

Published 23/04/2016

Furtive viewing: the lure of cheap or free online access to films, shows and music is fuelling demand for pirate sites
Furtive viewing: the lure of cheap or free online access to films, shows and music is fuelling demand for pirate sites

A detailed report from the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) has revealed that 19% of 15 to 24-year-olds have intentionally downloaded illegal content online in the last 12 months.

While music is the most popular legal pursuit for youngsters online, with 97% streaming or downloading on a regular basis, films and TV series are more common for people who access illegal sources (85%), followed by music (56%).

But why are people still turning to pirate sites when Spotify, Netflix, Amazon, iPlayer and countless other above-board services are available?

The content being "free or cheaper" is by far the strongest motivator (67%), followed by the convenience of downloading for personal use (38%), which streaming sites don't allow.

And it's not just because they can't find their favourite shows elsewhere, because only 29% of respondents said that was the cause.

"These factors combine to produce an atmosphere of indifference so that many young people who have been brought up in this digital age do not care whether they infringe IP (intellectual property), or not," says Antonio Campinos, executive director, EUIPO.

Gennaro Castaldo, speaking on behalf of the Get It Right From A Genuine Site initiative, believes education is the answer: "Using legal services supports the artists and performers and all those people behind the scenes that work hard to create the incredible range of content available - and it holds the door open to the many great opportunities for young people to join the industry in the future.

"We still need to continue to work to build awareness of the consequences of using illegal sources and services, and to change the attitudes and behaviours of the remaining 19%."

But, according to the report, only 18% of young people would stop accessing pirated movies and music if they had a "better understanding of the harm caused".

Whereas 58% say if they had access to more affordable material, they'd quit.

What this all points to is that there's a serious gap in the market for a "Spotify for TV" equivalent, a bit like Netflix (which costs from £5.99 a month), but with a "freemium" option, paid for by adverts.

Because that's what illegal TV sites essentially are: overloaded with layer upon layer of ads, but often with very poor streaming quality.

Spotify does now have a "shows" section, but it mainly consists of a lot of sub-five minute clips that you can get on YouTube anyway and, while TV services like iPlayer, 4OD and others, may be free (as part of the licence fee), they don't have as wide a range of series as Spotify does artists.

At the other end of the pricing spectrum, news has leaked that tech billionaire Sean Parker will soon be launching a controversial service called Screening Room, which will offer movies to stream at home for $50 a pop on the same day they're released in cinemas. If a start-up could do something similar, but cheaper, it might help plug the piracy gap.

Belfast Telegraph

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