The UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO)-commissioned Online Copyright Infringement Tracker found that 15 percent of UK internet users, or roughly seven million, either stream or download material that infringes copyright.
IPTV boxes that stream content over the internet through viewers such as Kodi remain a significant issue, with 13 percent of online infringers admitting to using them. This has prompted the UKIPO to publish a call for views on how to deal with the problem. The UK government response is due to be issued later this summer.
A separate joint UKIPO-PRS for Music study looked into stream ripping, which is taking advantage of the significant success of legal services such as Netflix and Spotify, which has seen a 7 percent increase in user numbers since 2016.
Stream ripping, by which internet users remove and store content away from its original revenue generating platform, is becoming a significant problem, with 15 percent of more than 9,000 internet users admitting being ‘stream rippers’.
Almost a quarter of stream rippers, 24 percent, believe their actions did not constitute infringement. The use of stream ripping websites increased by 141.3 percent between 2014 and 2016.
Ros Lynch, copyright and IP enforcement director at the UKIPO, said: “There has never been more choice or flexibility for consumers of TV and music, however illicit streaming devices and stream-ripping are threatening this progress.”
“Content creators deserve to be paid for their work—it is not a grey area. This government takes IP infringement extremely seriously and we are working with our industry partners and law enforcement to tackle this emerging threat.”
Robert Ashcroft, chief executive, PRS for Music, added: “We hope that this research will provide the basis for a renewed and re-focused commitment to tackling online copyright infringement.”
“The long term health of the UK’s cultural and creative sectors is in everyone’s best interests, including those of the digital service providers, and a coordinated industry and government approach to tackling stream ripping is essential.”