Ofcom Study Shows Piracy Isn’t So Cut and Dry

pirateA new UK report by telecom regulator Ofcom has been released and shows that the debate about piracy isn’t as clear-cut as many would lead you to believe. The study has found that 10% of the country’s most prolific infringers are responsible for close to 80% of all infringement online. Before you get your pitchforks though, that 10% spend 300% more than “honest” consumers who don’t infringe at all. The study looked at habits as well as attitudes including suggestions on what might combat piracy and looked at the consumption of movies, music, television shows, video games, software and books.

The infringers were broke into several groups based on their attitudes and their motivations.

  • Justifying Infringers – This group demonstrated the highest levels of infringing behavior, but were also the most receptive group to consider fairly priced legal alternatives. these folks felt they’ve already spent a lot on content and consider their habits a “try it before they buy it.” – 9% of all infringers, 24% of total volume, 2% of digital consumers.
  • Digital Transgressors – This group had the least remorse from their behavior, and consumed more films and television shows than “justifiers.” They also had the highest fear of getting caught and therefore are receptive to internet providers’ “strikes programs.” – 9% of all infringers, 22% of total volume, 2% of digital consumers.
  • Free Infringers – This is the largest group. They download content because its free and also pay for the least amount of legal content compared to other infringers. – 42% of infringers, 35% of total volume, 10% of digital consumers
  • Ambiguous Infringers – These folks had the lowest level of digital consumption and the highest proportion of legal paid content. They also don’t really justify their infringing. – 39% of infringers, 20% of volume, 9% of digital consumers.

There are lots of interesting facts in this report. The top 10% of infringers (1.6% of all Internet users over 12) are responsible for 79% of all infringed content. When you expand it to the top 20% it’s 88% of all infringements.

But, that top 20% is actually important to entertainment companies. That 20% accounts for 11% of all legal content consumed, and they also spend the most. While they steal a lot, they also buy a lot. No matter the content type, the top 20% of infringers spend more than the rest of the 80% of infringers, but they also consume more than people who never pirate.

Over the six month monitoring period, here’s the purchased amounts:

  • Top 20% of infringers – £168 about $257.95
  • 80% of infringers – £105 about $161.22
  • “Honest consumers” – £54 about $82.91

Here is the results as to what would get these folks to stop pirating content:

ofcom4So what does this report tell us:

  • Don’t believe the “sky is falling” claims of creators and publishers. The issue is much more complicated than presented. These aren’t just parasites that creators and corporations depict.
  • Comic publishers should be engaging these individuals. There’s a large amount of paying customers who also pirate, and they buy more than non-pirating customers. A pirate today might be a customer tomorrow.
  • Legal channels to obtain materials are key. By making sure material is available in numerous channels and with numerous ways to pay, piracy will decrease. Skipping runs, not having day and date, ludicrous pricing all hamper sales and increases piracy.

While this study is just the UK, it’d be interesting to see if it’s also applicable in the United States as well.

You can read the full report here.

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