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New EU study shows decreasing illegal content consumption

This study follows the first edition of the Intellectual Property and Youth Scoreboard (2016). The specific aim of the research is to understand which drivers and barriers are the strongest when acquiring online digital content or purchasing physical goods that are offered legally and illegally. The 2019 study is based on repeating the same online survey of 2016 among young people (aged 15-24) in the 28 EU Member States (EU28), to highlight the similarities and differences between then and now.

The most noticeable aspect of the 2019 Intellectual Property and Youth Scoreboard is that many of the results are very similar to those found in 2016. However, there are also some interesting early indications of a possible change in the attitudes and behaviour of young Europeans, and this report highlights the notable similarities and changes since the first edition. It remains to be seen whether these small shifts are indicative or not of a real change in the behaviour and attitudes of young people. The demographic-based differences of young people in the EU28 and the significant differences between countries have also been taken into account.

Young people care about quality when it comes to shopping online for digital content or physical goods. Furthermore, they are concerned about making purchases in a safe online environment. While cost/price is ranked as an important consideration, this driver is not as strong as it was in 2016. Affordability arguments are ranked highest among the reasons to stop engaging in IP infringing behaviour, but fewer young people in 2019 agree that this is a primary reason to stop.

When it comes to young people and intellectual property infringement, there is a big difference between buying fake products and accessing digital content from illegal sources, as was the case in 2016. Only one in five had bought counterfeit goods whereas twice this figure had accessed digital content from illegal sources. An indicative finding of the 2019 Youth IP Scoreboard is that there has been a slight decrease (4 percentage points) in the proportion of young people who have intentionally accessed digital content through illegal sources and an increase in the proportion who have intentionally not used illegal sources (11 percentage points).

Young people in 2019 consider the legality of online sources for digital content and physical goods. The percentage of young people who stress the importance of an item being original rather than fake has slightly risen, as has the percentage who say that online content offered legally is also important. There has been a slight decline in the percentage of young people saying that they bought fake goods because they did not care whether they were genuine or fake and, similarly, in the proportion of those who accessed digital content via illegal sources because they did not know otherwise, or because they did not see anything wrong with doing so.

Most young people across Europe say they perform at least one check to verify whether a source is legal or illegal (when purchasing physical goods or accessing digital content). Indeed, the figure has marginally increased since 2016 (82 % in 2016 mentioned performing at least one check compared to 87 % in 2019). The most common check performed, by quite a margin, is searching the internet for reviews, comments or opinions (58 %).

The next most common is checking the site owner (31 %), then asking friends (26 %), and asking parents or relatives (19 %). Just over half (55 %) of young people say they are capable of identifying illegal sources of digital content. While fewer — 39 % — feel able to identify illegal sources of physical goods, both figures represent a small improvement on the results for 2016, with 4 and 3 percentage points respectively.

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