After years of lobbying for tougher anti-piracy laws, the entertainment industry is finally gaining some ground in its war on illegal downloads. According to a new report published by Norwegian research body Ipsos MMI, almost 1.2 billion songs were copied without permission in Norway in 2008, but that figure had plummeted to 210 million – just 17.5 per cent of its level four years earlier.
Piracy of movies and TV shows has also reduced by around half, with 65 million film and 55 million TV shows illegally downloaded in 2012, compared to125 million and 135 million respectively in 2008.
Norway recently passed a new law aimed at reducing online piracy, but the report attributes the decline to the rise of legal alternatives, such as music streaming service Spotify and on-demand video service Netflix.
“When you have a good legitimate offer, the people will use it,” said Olav Torvund, former law professor at the University of Oslo.
“There is no excuse for illegal copying, but when you get an offer that does not cost too much and is easy to use, it is less interesting to download illegally.”
The statistics suggest that the need for tough anti-piracy laws – such as the controversial Digital Economy Act in the UK – is reducing, and that a more market-led approach may be the best way to solve the problem of illegal downloading.
Of those questioned in the survey, 47 percent said they use a streaming music service such as Spotify to listen to music, and just over half said that they pay for the premium option.
However, the UK government is currently still pressing ahead with its Digital Economy Act, which was rushed through Parliament in the ‘wash-up’ before the last election in 2010.
The Act includes a ‘three strikes’ policy for illegal downloaders, and requires internet service providers (ISPs) to send letters to customers, informing them when their account has been connected to reports of suspected online copyright infringement.
If a customer receives three letters in a year, anonymous information may be provided to copyright owners, showing them which infringement reports are linked to that customer’s account. The copyright owner can then seek to take legal action for infringement under the Copyright Designs and Patent Act 1988.