INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

Illegal downloading in Spain falls by 4% in 2016

New survey shows little success in fighting online piracy, estimating lost profits of €1.8bn

The consumption of pirated material dropped in Spain in 2016 by 4.2% on the previous year, according to a survey carried out by consultancy firm Gfk, commissioned by Spain’s Coalition of Content Creators.

Spain has a long-standing problem with illegal downloading.
Spain has a long-standing problem with illegal downloading.Gorka Lejarcegi

This downturn is the first in 10 years, but in real terms, the content industry has experienced a 6.8% hike in loss of potential earnings and the number of people pirating remains unchanged. In 2016, there were 4.128 billion cases of illegal access to content valued at €23.294 billion, resulting in an estimated loss of €1.783 billion profit. According to the Observatory, had this material been paid for, it would have resulted in the creation of 21,697 new jobs. Now the industry is demanding bolder measures to reduce unlicensed downloading, as educational campaigns and current legislation have not proved effective.

The breakdown of the loss of potential profit is as follows: soccer €271 million, film €573 million, TV series €171 million, recreational reading material €107 million, music €414 million and video games €247 million. Particularly badly hit were the music and film industries, with digitally downloaded music losing €398 million in potential profit and cinema losing €439 million. Online movies earned €97 million last year, while losing €134 million through piracy.

The impact on state income has been a loss of potential VAT worth €360.7 million, social security contributions worth €166 million and €29 million in income tax.

The Observatory points out that more than 67% of websites providing illegal content are financed by advertising, 69% promoting online betting and gaming, 52% dating sites and 39% adult-only sites. A third of publicity is bought by renowned brands of food products, fashion, insurance and telephones.

According to Gfk, the survey was based on 4,036 online interviews and identified two main justifications for illegal downloading: 47% said, “I'm already paying for my internet connection” and another 47% said, “If the original content weren’t so expensive, I would pay for it.”

Other justifications included: “I’m not harming anyone,” and “There are no legal consequences for people pirating, so it doesn't matter.” The survey also noted that 78% of people who download material illegally are using search engines such as Google, Bing or Yahoo.

English version by Heather Galloway.

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