On 13 September 2013 Ofcom hosted the joint Ofcom/Intellectual Property Office (IPO) workshop on standards for good evidence. Hosted by Charlotte Waelde (University of Exeter), the event emphasised the need for collaboration in defining research questions and the production of good evidence.
Justin Le Patourel, Ofcom
Justin Le Patourel of Ofcom provided an overview of the latest, and final, instalment of the Ofcom online copyright infringement research. The comprehensive survey of over 20,000 people looks at the extent and reasoning of copyright infringement in six content types: music, TV, film, books, software, and video game. Funded by the IPO, managed by Ofcom, and produced by Kantar Media, the project provides a benchmark of online copyright infringement data for future studies. The latest instalment completes the picture for the whole year and is one of the largest studies of its type anywhere in the world.
Key findings of the presentation included:
- infringement is an activity carried out by the minority, with 17% of all internet users accessing content illegally
- the top 10% of infringers account for 74% of all infringed content (and make up just 2% of all internet users)
- overall, infringers spend more on content than non-infringers (though this was driven by TV and music expenditure)
- 44% of all internet users were not confident in knowing what is and isn’t legal
Liz Bales (Industry Trust for IP Awareness) presented research insights into who infringers are and how best to raise awareness with them. The ICM conducted study interviewed 2,720 individuals online in July and August 2013. The research enables greater understanding of the market environment and consumer behaviour towards infringement. Although smaller than the Ofcom Copyright Infringement Research, many of the findings were similar. There was recognition that those engaging in unofficial activity are the industry’s main customers and are also more likely to engage in authorised activity if the unofficial sources become unavailable.
The study also tracks the progress of the ‘Moments Worth Paying for Campaign’ - where education is used as a tool to inspire and inform people where they can access more content legally. Collaboration with production companies has enabled information to be embedded into film commercials such as Iron Man 3 and Despicable Me 2 showing content can be accessed by consumers above board.
Dennis Collopy (Hertfordshire University) provided an overview of Hertfordshire’s assessment of infringement research methodologies. The study, commissioned by the IPO, reviews the methodologies identifying the scale of infringement across the four main intellectual property rights: copyright, patents, trade marks and design rights. Key points included:
- to ensure research is of a standard to influence policy, transparency and disclosure of methodology are vital for credibility
- a more collaborative approach between industry and government is needed
- publically available data can serve as a benchmark for industry and industry generated market intelligence should be collated
Charlotte Waelde chaired a panel discussion on the IPOs good evidence guide - panellists included Tony Clayton (IPO) and Tim Drye (Audiencenet). It was agreed that the IPO guide was not being followed in most cases and that there is often a lack of consistency in methodology and approach between research. Tony confirmed that the IPO will be amending the good evidence guide, taking into account suggestions for improvement, including the addition of qualitative evidence to complement quantitative research. Tim emphasised the need for simple, straightforward and transparent research with industry disclosing their data wherever possible to bolster the credibility of research.
Charlotte provided closing remarks to the event by recapping on those themes recurred throughout the presentations. Participants emphasised the need for a collaborative approach between industry and government to construct an evidence base. The event concluded with further praise of the Ofcom online infringement research and hope that it will continue.
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