More and more Europeans are consuming pirated films and content, despite the possible criminal consequences. Digital piracy increased by 3.3% last year, according to a report released on Tuesday by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). The main drivers of the increase are illegally acquired television shows, series, films and manga comics.
According to the study, which differentiates between the different types of reproduction for the first time, streaming or live broadcasting has become the most popular method for illegally consuming content. Specifically, around 60% of piracy in the European Union occurs during live broadcasts, while 32% occurs when downloading content.
The study also records illegal access to sporting events for the first time. This type of piracy witnessed an upward trend in 2021 and 2022 with a significant increase of 30% in a single year. France and Spain account for more than a third (34%) of the total illegal consumption of this type of program in Europe.
The report reflects that piracy of live events reaches some peaks each year in April, when the main competition season ends, and in September/October, at the start of the new season. Low values are recorded in the months of June and July due to the summer holidays.
In the document, EUIPO CEO Christian Archambeau criticizes the “serious” consequences of piracy for the audiovisual sector and calls for the adoption of measures to help curb what he describes as a “complex” phenomenon.
Piracy by categories
The EUIPO shows that piracy, measured by the monthly number of accesses to illegal content per internet user, showed a slow decline until 2021, when the trend reversed. The change is linked to the increase in television piracy, which accounted for almost half (48%) of all access to infringing websites in the European Union last year. Other types of pirated content include publications (28%), films (11%), software (7%) and music (6%).
In 2022, the number of pirated TV shows increased by 15%. The most sought-after genres were television programs and series and on-demand films. Behind this were anime productions (Japanese cartoons) and live broadcasts of events as well as specialized sports channels.
Piracy of publications has also increased significantly. Manga comics were the most popular among pirated consumers, followed by audiobooks and electronic books. When it comes to films, another classic of illegal downloads, the report highlights that Hollywood blockbusters are the most viewed.
Another area that saw a slight increase was software piracy, i.e. games and applications for mobile devices. While there was an increase in the other categories, this was only not the case in the music category, where the numbers remain relatively low.