The impact of education and enforcement begins to drive down piracy amongst Generation Y | FAST

The impact of education and enforcement begins to drive down piracy amongst Generation Y

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But 40% of young Brits are still downloading illegal content and a quarter state that nothing will deter them

A combined strategy of technology, IP appreciation and ultimately enforcement, are beginning to have an impact on attitudes to software piracy amongst the under 35’s. This is according to research issued by the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) into the perception of intellectual property amongst the 18-35 age group.

According to the research 84% of the sample of 500 questioned, stated that they download digital content, however 40% of them claimed to knowingly downloading illegal content.

When questioned why they downloaded pirated content 35% claimed that if they could get something for free, why shouldn’t they, while 40% stated that legitimate content was too expensive.

Music remains the most commonly pirated download mentioned by 84% of the sample followed by film and business related software was cited by a quarter of the sample.

Alex Hilton, CEO, FAST, commented: “We commissioned this research to try and understand the attitudes of Generation Y in the increasingly commoditised digital world, together with the impact of enforcement and education messages.  Whilst streamed content from the likes of Netflix and Spotify help reduce theft, with 25% claiming it has made content more accessible and affordable, there is still 26% saying it has made no difference to their behaviour). 

“We still have a long way to go to change attitudes towards Intellectual Property. When we asked the simple question whether enforcement action taken by ISPs had altered behaviour patterns, only 20% stated that it had.  A massive 71% of those asked claimed it had made it harder to download the content they wanted, but had not stopped them. What was the most startling figure was the 10.5% who said it made no difference whatsoever.

When we went on to ask what would stop a consumer from downloading we found that over 65% of our sample would do so following a ‘cease and desist’ letter from an ISP or IP owner. But the other statistic that reminds us all in the IPR sector why we need to remain vigilant was the 25% who said not even a fine or prosecution would stop them,” he continued.

Mike Weatherley MP for Hove and Portslade and IP Advisor to David Cameron, stated: “Over the past few years the UK Government has adopted a dual approach to IP protection. On the one hand we have worked with the IP industries to help educate the public as to the consequences of IP theft.  Through this we have seen a concerted effort from not only the software vendors but music and film companies as well, making their business models attractive to users.

“The alternative approach of a beefed up enforcement regime is also playing a powerful roll as these research findings seem to indicate. Consumer behavior is beginning to change, as attitudes, accessibility and affordability all come into play. But we have a long way to go as there appears to be huge resistance amongst a large section of society,” he added.

Key findings include:

  • 20% of the sample stated that changes made by ISPs to block illegal sites have actively stopped them from downloading illegal content, while 71% stated that they had found it far harder to find and did not put them off, while a rump of 10.5% stated it made no difference at all
  • A fine (30%) or a criminal prosecution (20%) were also found to be the most effective deterrent to illegal downloads
  • A staggering 25% of the sample said nothing would deter them from downloading pirated content

“The software industry needs to keep vigilant. It is not just that a quarter of this sample refuse to change their behaviour patterns, it is about perception. When we asked our sample how serious did they perceive digital piracy to be over 29% still believe that it is legitimate, given the profits the rights holders make. Amongst Gen Y only 15% of the sample believed it to be a serious issue. So perhaps the mantra we need to take forward from this research is that we need not only to change behaviour but win the education battle,” concluded Alex.