A new report by the European Commission, studying the film viewing habits of nearly 5000 people from 10 EU member states aged 4-50 , shows that the majority (nearly 70 percent) of Europeans download or stream movies for free.
The survey is not specifically aimed at identifying piracy habits, and does not ask whether downloading or streaming the films breaches copyright restrictions, but it is reasonable to conclude that watching these free movies constitutes ‘piracy’.
‘Nearly 70% of Europeans download or stream films for free, whether legally or illegally.’
97 percent of Europeans like to watch movies, but 68 percent prefer to download rather than paying for them, while 56 percent (less, but still more than half of all people surveyed) will happily stream free movie content.
The reasons cited for preferring free over paid-for options are summarized by country in the chart below, but we think that the true answer is simply that free is free, and humans are hardwired into liking free.
Where people live plays an important part in the equation, with those in Romania, for example, citing the price of cinema tickets and legal download options much less than lack of availability and slowness of films to appear in their country, relative to countries such as Spain and France.
The report notes that,
‘Free-downloaders tend to be young, urban and educated, heavy film viewers interested in the diversity of films but frustrated by the cost, the delays and narrow catalogues of legal offers (lack of availability is the main motivation to stream-download European films for 44% vs. price for US films for 55%).’
The summary to the report concludes that free-downloading is understandable, but that there is room for the movie industry to address the reasons behind it, and to therefore improve profits,
‘The study finds that [free-downloading] is not surprising because, while the public takes a lot of interest in films as a whole, the nearest cinema is often some distance from them and the choice on screen is frequently rather limited. It suggests that the European film industry can increase revenues by exploiting different types of profit-making online platforms to increase the availability of films and reach new audiences.
This conclusion flies in the face of the ‘stick and bigger stick’ approach currently agitated for by the movie industry, which would rather push for draconian ant-piracy laws backed up with ever more savage punishments for offenders.