The IPO has published new research that compares how different countries deal with online copyright piracy. Thanks to the internet, it is very easy for pirated music, films and software to cross borders. However, it is still national governments who are responsible for dealing with the problem, each in their own way.
Our report looks at countries with a range of economic, cultural and political influences. These include the USA, Canada, Italy, Spain, France, Netherlands, South Korea, Brazil, and the UK.
The government of South Korea stands out for being very energetic in fighting internet piracy. Korea spends the most on government enforcement (£12.7m a year), more than double the amount France spends. To help the government detect piracy, members of the public are asked to report illegal websites through a web portal. Those who report a lot are rewarded with coupons and gift cards of up to £1,700 per year.
The French government focuses on internet users who download or stream pirated material and not on the websites that provide the material. If a user is found to be downloading illegally then they receive a warning letter. If they ignore this and break the law again within 6 months then they will receive another, harsher-worded, letter. If they continue ignoring the warnings they may end up in court and punished with a fine.
As well as punishing illegal downloading, France experimented with a Youth Music Card. This scheme gave 12-25 year olds the chance to buy music online, with the government paying for half the price of their downloads. The scheme was complicated, not widely taken up and cancelled in 2012 after running for just 2 years.
Unlike France, the Netherlands relies on voluntary agreements to tackle piracy. Creative industries monitor the internet for pirate websites, and ask Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to take down or block the websites. The government supports this through a Code of Conduct for how industry and ISPs can work together. If the ISPs can’t deal with an illegal website then copyright holders may choose to take the pirates to court.
How does the UK compare?
We take a middle ground approach to online piracy. We target both the websites providing pirated material and the users who download it. The UK relies on a voluntary agreement between creative industries and ISPs. This is supported by the Police Intellectual Property Crimes Unit (PIPCU) which can investigate piracy. You can see how all the 9 countries compare by looking at figure 5 on page 19 of the report.