Evidence Mounts: UK Study Shows Better Legal Alternatives Pushing Pirates To Become Customers

The theory that piracy enforcement is a far inferior method for combating copyright infringement when compared with better and innovative business models and offerings is certainly old hat for us here. And, while there have certainly been studies going back years showing that to be the case, it seems notable that the past few months have seen a wave of these studies all coming on top of each other. We had MUSO, of all organizations, essentially concluding a survey it did in the UK showing how much content “pirates” actually buy legitimately by saying, “Hey, content industries, get your shit together!” That was followed quite recently by a study performed by Dutch researchers that did an amazing and large-sampled survey that concluded quite clearly that user-friendly legal alternatives depressed piracy rates at a far greater clip than enforcement measures.

And, now, because good things always come in threes, yet another study in the UK has shown that once-pirates of music are morphing into very real customers due to convenient and user-friendly streaming services.

A new report from market research and data analytics firm YouGov only adds weight to that apparent shift. The headline stat from the company’s Music Report is that just one in ten Brits are currently downloading music illegally. That’s down from almost double (18%) that figure five short years ago.

It’s quite obvious what coincides with that time period of the past five years that could contribute to this reduction in piracy and sure as hell isn’t anything in the enforcement arena. Instead, the YouGov study suggests that the streaming services so many in the music industry have tried desperately to torpedo are responsible for this reduction. And, more interestingly, the report suggests that the trend line is only going to continue, if not accelerate.

More than six out of ten (63%) illegal music downloaders predict they’ll still be pirating in five years’ time but a significant 22% believe they won’t. Just over a third (36%) acknowledge that using unofficial sources for music is becoming more difficult but the summary doesn’t offer reasons why.

“It is now easier to stream music than to pirate it. And the cost is not prohibitive,” one respondent said. “Spotify has everything from new releases to old songs, it filled the vacuum, there was no longer a need for using [an] unverified source,” added another.

In other words, innovators solved the music piracy problem in the UK, as we always said would happen. John Marshall, the associate director at YouGov, was even more explicit in his conclusions, essentially stating that the public was now satisfied with streaming services and mostly had no use for piracy.

All of this is not to say that the music industry doesn’t still have jobs in peril, of course. It’s just that those jobs appear to be the ones involved in copyright enforcement, while the business of music itself should be doing quite well.

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