Study: Dutch Piracy Rates In Free Fall Due Mostly To The Availability Of Legal Alternatives

from the you-don't-say dept

The claim that the best way to combat content piracy is to offer good legal alternatives and make them widely available isn't exactly breaking new ground. Case studies made out of several nations' piracy rates, such as in Australia and Norway, demonstrate the severe impact creating good digital marketplace alternatives to piracy can have. Techdirt's think tank arm, the Copia Institute, produced the definitive report highlighting this in multiple countries nearly two years ago.

And, yet, the copyright industries and their mouthpiece organizations typically choose to beat the punishment drum instead, going the route of litigation against pirates that ultimately ends up being a PR nightmare, or instead going the route of wholesale censorship on the internet that is equal parts ineffective and alarming to those of us that think such censorship ought to have a high bar to hurdle in order to be implemented. It's with that in mind that any new example that simply offering legal alternatives is a better route is useful to highlight.

Which brings us to the Netherlands, long assumed to be a hotspot of piracy. And, indeed, as recently as 2013 a study put out by Telecompaper indicated that 41% of the Dutch people were downloading copyrighted content for free. But that same study also suggests that this piracy rate has dropped all the way to 27% as legal alternatives have emerged.

In November 2013, when services such as Netflix and Spotify were still new, 41% of Dutch people were downloading illegal content. In January, that percentage fell to 27%. From this group, 77% say they plan to download less pirated content; the remaining 23% claim they will increase illegal usage.

Of the group that still downloads, 8% say they have reduced their activities because it is becoming harder to find what they are looking for. Of the people who have increased their pirate activities, 6% said in January that it was easier to find what they were looking for, compared to 13% in 2013.

Now, the post makes a point to note that BREIN, the anti-piracy outfit in the region, has also stepped up its efforts in this time. But if you look at the data in the respondents, it's clear that BREIN's attempts to make pirated content less available isn't much of a factor for those that have ceased pirating that content. Less than one in ten of the people still downloading content illicitly are finding it harder to do so. That's much less a factor than the piracy rate in the country dropping by a third.

Which leaves us with the wider availability of legal alternatives being the main impetus for the change. That jives well with what we've seen in other countries too. All of which leaves us to ponder once again why the content industries don't seek to ramp up the legal alternatives instead of going to war with them or, worse yet, trying to wage some unwinnable legal fight with all of piracy everywhere?


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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Jul 2017 @ 12:08pm

    "Less than one in ten of the people still downloading content illicitly are finding it harder to do so." -- You don't understand margins and chilling effects, then.

    That's right, pirates: CHILLING EFFECTS. I wants 'em. Stopped from being able to openly get infringed content is NOT equal to censorship.

    Overall, this is cold hash, same old feeble claims against copyright enforcement, supported by nothing.

    The obvious conclusion, by the way, which non-thieves don't need, but I'm reminded that you pirates DO: is that enforcement = less piracy. You're simply taking two data points and leaving out highly relevant factor which is shutdown of Pirate Bay and generally more enforcement.

    But nicely fawning plug for the "think tank arm" -- HA, HA! that's a Google and other corporately funded SHILL front -- and its silly pro-pirate "report".

    https://copia.is/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/sponsors.png

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 7 Jul 2017 @ 12:27pm

      Re: "Less than one in ten of the people still downloading content illicitly are finding it harder to do so." -- You don't understand margins and chilling effects, then.

      Because there was no anti-piracy enforcement prior to 2013, right?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Jul 2017 @ 12:27pm

      Since when did they shutdown the Pirate Bay??

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Jul 2017 @ 12:30pm

      Re: "Less than one in ten of the people still downloading content illicitly are finding it harder to do so." -- You don't understand margins and chilling effects, then.

      Filthy TOR pirate says what?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 7 Jul 2017 @ 12:36pm

      Re: "Less than one in ten of the people still downloading content illicitly are finding it harder to do so." -- You don't understand margins and chilling effects, then.

      You need to evict whatever brain slug you have residing within your skull; it clearly has not paid the rent in a long while.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Thad, 7 Jul 2017 @ 1:25pm

        Re: Re: "Less than one in ten of the people who's sure all that glitters is gold and she's buying the stairway to heaven.

        On a related topic, I spent a few minutes writing up a Greasemonkey script to hide all comments from Anonymous Cowards or MyNameHere. It makes things awfully quiet around here, but maybe it'll finally give the grownups a chance to talk without being pestered by paint chip enthusiasts.

        I'd paste it here but apparently Techdirt's version of Markdown doesn't include code blocks. So here's a jsfiddle until I get a chance to give it a more permanent home.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 7 Jul 2017 @ 2:21pm

          Re: Re: Re: "Less than one in ten of the people who's sure all that glitters is gold and she's buying the stairway to heaven.

          Not all AC's should be ignored. I do agree that some of them are idiots who call others idiots and seem to think their shit don't stink, but there are other who even make the most insightful or funniest comments of the week and are worth reading. I sometimes wish that there was a way to eliminate the need to pour through their detritus and get to the good stuff with less effort (flagging works, but it does take effort), however you will miss much by eliminating all AC's.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Thad, 7 Jul 2017 @ 2:59pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: "Less than one in ten of the people who's sure all that glitters is gold and she's buying the stairway to heaven.

            I agree; it's a blunt instrument and I hate to throw the baby out with the bathwater. But I just need some damn peace and quiet. If they show up on the Most Insightful or Funniest list, I'll see it in that post.

            There are better potential solutions -- some sort of scoring system looking for, say, subject lines longer than 30 characters, phrases like common law, sycophantic, crickets, or George Washington's farewell address, and assigning weights to them. I bet you could get a program to recognize a post from the Paint Chip Brigade with a pretty high degree of accuracy. Better still would be to feed every flagged post through a machine learning algorithm.

            But I've already devoted more hours of my life to dealing with these nitwits than they deserve. Five minutes in a text editor is about what I'm willing to spend on them at this point.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Wendy Cockcroft, 10 Jul 2017 @ 7:34am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "Less than one in ten of the people who's sure all that glitters is gold and she's buying the stairway to heaven.

              Couldn't Thad just screen out comments from people who don't bother with a handle? Not that I'm suggesting he's obliged to read my comments, or anything.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 8 Jul 2017 @ 11:58am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: "Less than one in ten of the people who's sure all that glitters is gold and she's buying the stairway to heaven.

            I post as an AC more than half the time because I don't notice I'm not automatically logged in until after I hit submit.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Toom1275 (profile), 8 Jul 2017 @ 12:00pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: "Less than one in ten of the people who's sure all that glitters is gold and she's buying the stairway to heaven.

              Like that time >_>

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Jul 2017 @ 12:13pm

    >All of which leaves us to ponder once again why the content industries don't seek to ramp up the legal alternatives instead of going to war with them or, worse yet, trying to wage some unwinnable legal fight with all of piracy everywhere?

    Because piracy is the excuse they are using to try and gain control over the Internet, and restore their position as the gatekeepers to all published content. Politicians are likely to gone along with them, because that gives them backdoor censorship.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Jul 2017 @ 12:20pm

      Re:

      and lets not forget about the bribes errrr..... campaign contributions!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 7 Jul 2017 @ 1:48pm

      Re:

      Agreed. As I've noted before if the goal is to stamp out piracy the methods used are incredibly stupid. If on the other hand the goal is to stamp out competition then they make perfect sense.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Roger Strong (profile), 7 Jul 2017 @ 2:28pm

      Re:

      This was also behind the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) and other schemes to require mandatory DRM in all music and video players.

      It wasn't about piracy; it was about only the big established players having the financial resources to license the DRM, and the server and communications infrastructure to implement it. Allowing them to remain gatekeepers.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 7 Jul 2017 @ 12:31pm

    I'd say that along with availability, fair pricing also played a significant role there. Take the streaming services and price them a few times above current prices and we will see the opposite effect. People think it's fair to pay $15, $20 for a variety of content so they pay. The MAFIAA lost tons of money not to piracy but to their own head-in-the-sand approach. They could be the owners of the Netflixes of today but they chose not to take the evolution train.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 7 Jul 2017 @ 1:13pm

      Re:

      This connects back to the AMC story from a few posts ago. Which is really the better value for the average consumer: a $5-per-month surcharge on an already-high cable bill that lets you watch commercial-free shows from a single cable network, or a standalone $10-per-month charge that lets you watch thousands of hours of commercial-free movies and TV shows?

      Pricing is important. Making people feel like they have received a fair trade for what they have paid is just as important.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Jul 2017 @ 1:27pm

    as long as the entertainment industries give greater preference to everything and anything before customers and what they want, piracy will continue. it is made worse by the continuous bribes to governments, individual politicians and law makers to get old laws ramped up and new laws introduced that take away all rights of the consumer over what they have bought and the most ridiculous punishments that could ever be imagined! consider a 'proper' crime, like bank robbery, rape or grievous bodily harm and the punishments for those are less than for copying or downloading. that is fucking ludicrous! even manslaughter carries a lesser prison term than the ones the entertainment industries got into being! that cannot be right, under any stretch of the imagination! as long as these industries continue to treat customers with contempt and as if they should be thankful that movies and music are available rather than the industries being thankful that they have customers to keep them and, most importantly, the artists going, things wont change!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    MyNameHere (profile), 7 Jul 2017 @ 1:36pm

    You said:

    "it's clear that BREIN's attempts to make pirated content less available isn't much of a factor for those that have ceased pirating that content. "

    Story says:

    "The popularity of free downloading for content has fallen sharply in the last few years, as more streaming alternatives become available, as people get better access to pay services and amid a sharpening fight against illegal downloads."

    Even the story points directly at the fight against illegal downloads.

    Availability of legal services is very important (duh!), but at the same time making the illegal source less attractive is a real boost as well. If fewer people are using P2P, and those who do use it are seeding less / leaving their connection open less then the general availability of torrents drops. That in turn makes the legal alternatives look better.

    There will always be piracy, someone people will always go down that road. Changes in the landscape means that the vast majority (those in the middle ground) are more likely to use legal services and avoid the hassles and risks of P2P.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 7 Jul 2017 @ 2:14pm

      Re:

      Availability of legal services is very important (duh!), but at the same time making the illegal source less attractive is a real boost as well.

      The best way to make the illegal source less attractive is to make the legal source more convenient and valuable for the average person. Just look at Netflix.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jul 2017 @ 2:08am

      Re:

      Odd that this supposed "boost" didn't kick in during the RIAA's campaigns. Or the takedown of Megaupload. Or the Pirate Bay raid.

      Somehow despite how unattractive piracy was being made out to be the problem only started getting solved when legal alternatives were being produced.

      Either you're romanticizing antipiracy as usual, or the measures took over a decade to start having any effect. Which really says a lot about how effective they are.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Jul 2017 @ 10:47pm

        Re: Re:

        P2P is a critical mass thing. The blocks in the UK as an example have made it much harder to find British programming on torrents. Certainly the numbers of seeders and leechers has dropped.

        The lnock on effect in P2P is that as fewer people use it fewer people find the content they want and they as a result use it less meaning less peers and less available content.

        So yes it takes time.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 8 Jul 2017 @ 11:35pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          The funny thing is that the above three examples have close to nothing to do with your "knock on" effect. Never mind the fact that a lack of P2P content does not inherently mean that people will suddenly be capable of affording legal content. If that content isn't available in their territory anyway it contributes nothing to legal purchases.

          Meanwhile people are turning to streaming instead, and copyright enforcers are busy gnashing their teeth as a result.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            MyNameHere (profile), 9 Jul 2017 @ 9:24am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Interesting effect of streaming sites though is that people don't tend to download the content, which means they can't as easily re-share it with strangers.

            Streaming is also a way easier target to take down, as it always depends on someone with a server somewhere actually serving the stuff. Unlike P2P, the root source of the stream can almost always be traced down. That is why most of them have been hiding in haven countries, such as Spain. Now Spain isn't interested in being that idiot anymore, so streaming sites are being shut down.

            it's sort of like what has happened with Roku boxes - as soon as someone shows up and starts applying a little heat, the guys who were profiteering off of other people's work quickly disappear.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 10 Jul 2017 @ 10:29pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              So... still got an explanation for how the RIAA cases contributed to the downfall of piracy, years after they happened, in comparison with the providing of legal alternatives?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Wothe (profile), 7 Jul 2017 @ 3:19pm

    Fair use conundrum

    In spite of what "they" claim, it isn't so much actual copyright infringement-- it is objections to fair use. Fair use says you can do a backup/ working copy, use portions and snippets publicly, not use parts (i.e. block out that f-bomb so the kids can watch) --

    That is clearly demonstrated by their successfully getting DRM breaking criminalized.

    Frankly, P2P is an easy convenient way to get clean editable backups.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Wyrm (profile), 7 Jul 2017 @ 7:25pm

    carrot and stick approach, but...

    "who needs a carrot?", says the copyright industry.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2017 @ 8:11am

      Re: carrot and stick approach, but...

      'Tis true, they already have that stick jammed so far up their ass that they get mistaken for a scarecrow.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    DutchBoi, 10 Jul 2017 @ 10:03am

    Yeah, it's true.

    Ever since I got NETFLIX with my 30 MB/s connection, I stopped chasing torrents. They're just not worthy anymore, given their mostly crappy compression ratios.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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