A recent report from the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) sheds light on the concerning issue of internet piracy within the European Union. Titled "Copyright Infringement on the Internet in the European Union: Films, Music, Publishing, Software, and Television, 2017-2022," the report highlights Cyprus as the EU member state with the highest rates of internet piracy.
According to the report, published on September 19, 2023, the top four countries with the highest piracy rates are Estonia and Latvia, with nearly 25 visits per user per month, followed by Lithuania and Cyprus. In contrast, Germany, Italy, and Poland have the lowest rates of internet piracy. Notably, Cyprus also boasts the highest piracy rate for live sports events, well above the EU average, with Portugal and Greece following closely behind.
The report reveals a 3.3% increase in digital piracy across the Union in 2022, primarily attributed to pirated TV shows, series, films, and manga magazines. Interestingly, prior to 2021, piracy, as measured by the number of monthly visits to illegal content per internet user, had been on a declining trend, but this changed in 2022.
Pirated TV content saw a significant 15% surge in 2022, with TV shows, series, and on-demand movies being the most popular pirated genres.
One of the key shifts in piracy trends is the growing piracy of TV programs, accounting for nearly half (48%) of all visits to illegal websites in the EU in 2022. Other types of pirated content include publishing (28%), movies (11%), software (7%), and music (6%).
Pirated TV content remains at the forefront, followed by anime animation productions, live sports event broadcasts, and special sports channels. Access to illegal publications, the second-largest source of piracy after television, has also been on the rise since January 2021, with comic manga being the leading category, followed by audio books and e-books.
Despite a significant decrease in the early months of the pandemic, film piracy experienced a slight increase in 2021 and 2022, with most pirated films being major Hollywood hits. Software piracy, including games and mobile software, is gradually on the rise. However, music piracy has seen a decline and remains relatively low.
On average, EU internet users visited websites offering copyright-infringing content around 10 times a month by the end of 2022. It's important to note that there are substantial variations in piracy rates among EU member states.
The report also delves into the shifting landscape of accessing illegal television content. Streaming has emerged as the most popular method, accounting for 58% of piracy in the EU, while downloading represents 32%.
Furthermore, the study examines illegal access to live sporting events for the first time, revealing a notable upward trend in 2021 and 2022, with a 30% increase in just one year. Some countries, such as France and Spain, have witnessed this type of content constituting over a third (34%) of total illegal accesses.
Interestingly, live sports piracy shows a significant increase in April and September-October, coinciding with active seasons and summer holidays in major European football leagues.
This report serves as a comprehensive overview of the evolving landscape of internet piracy in the European Union, raising important concerns about the protection of intellectual property rights and the need for increased vigilance in combatting this issue.