84% of content acquired in Spain is pirated, says report

Industry-sponsored study finds that awareness of damage being done is slowly increasing

Piracy of e-books has risen more than any other type of online content.
Piracy of e-books has risen more than any other type of online content.Álvaro García

More than half of all internet users in Spain are accessing unlawful content, according to a new report on online piracy that analyzes 2013 trends.

In total “84 percent of all content acquired in Spain is pirated,” the study found.

Commissioned by an industry coalition of music, movie, publishing and videogame companies, the annual report was released on Wednesday to coincide with a congressional debate on intellectual property legislation, scheduled for Thursday.

The objective was to send out a clear message to the government and opposition alike: “Content industries want to convey that the model initiated by the Sinde Law [copyright protection legislation sponsored by then-culture minister Ángeles González-Sinde in 2010] and implemented by the regulation of March 1, 2012 has come up terribly short,” said Carlota Navarrete, the leader of the coalition.

The Culture Ministry was quick to dismiss the report, calling it a “rough opinion study commissioned by interested parties” and pointing out that it had not been sent to it in advance for analysis.

23 percent feel they are not hurting anyone with their online piracy

Entitled the Observatory of Privacy and Digital Content Consumer Habits for 2013, the study supports industry views 100 percent. According to its authors, illegal downloads are growing at a rate of 4.6 percent, with half of users accessing the copyrighted material directly through content sites and the other half through search engines. Or, to be more precise, one search engine, as 97.6 percent use Google.

“Just as it has eliminated pornographic material, Google could be doing a lot more than it does on this issue,” said Navarrete.

According to the study, seven out of 10 users who download copyrighted content without paying for it do so precisely because it is free. Over half do it to test out the content, to see whether they would want to purchase it later.

The report also finds that 23 percent feel they are not hurting anyone by downloading pirated material. “Which means that around 80 percent think the opposite,” noted Navarrete, viewing this as a positive thing. “We have noticed a shift in social perceptions. Around 80 percent of internet users feel that this practice has detrimental effects, so this opens up a path of hope, of creating awareness of the problem.”

The sponsored report estimates that the value of all pirated material is in excess of €16 billion, and that more and more kinds of content are being pirated compared with the previous year, except for music, which went slightly down. E-books recorded the highest rise in online piracy in 2013, tripling the 2012 figure, a fact mostly attributable to the rapid spread of tablets and e-readers.

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