It’s always a rough ride for national governments trying to curb content piracy within their borders. Trying to promote legitimate streaming and download services while punishing illegitimate platforms is tough enough,m but the challenge is even harder when it comes to balancing punitive measures with education for end consumers.
For all the setbacks, though, 2015 is showing signs of success for anti-piracy initiatives at the national level.
Earlier this year we were happy to report on Norway’s progress against piracy. Now, at the halfway point, it’s Spain’s turn to trumpet some positive results, as Spaniards turn towards legal channels, especially on the streaming side.
As a little background, as recently as last year, Spain was Western Europe’s black sheep of the family in terms of content theft. A report commissioned by the Coalition Against Piracy found that a massive 88 percent of all digital content accessed by Spanish consumers came was unlicensed. That was only a four percent rise on the previous year, demonstrating just how established and brazen these illegal players had become in Spanish society.
At an estimated cost approaching $2 billion lost to rights holders, Spain was clearly a piracy hotspot.
Thankfully, the country’s government took that slight to heart and enacted some serious legislation to tackle the problem, including greater attention to intellectual property complaints by the authorities and the potential to block Internet service providers (ISPs) who facilitate access to illegal sites.
These efforts began back in 2012, so there has been some overlap, but now the country’s Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sports is reporting signs of success at every level.
The highlights include:
- 98% of all content removal requests, covering 247 sites, have been heeded, while 95% of 444 creator complaints against unlicensed content have been resolved satisfactorily,
- Annual music revenues returned to positive growth in 2014, following a historic low the previous year, reaching $150 million dollars and posting a further 11% growth in year-on-year spending for the first half of 2015,
- The number of pirate sites in the top 250 visited websites in Spain has been cut in half since 2012, partly due to ISP blocks but also as a result of changing consumer behavior.
As is believed to be the case in the many Scandinavian success stories, streaming music services are driving a return to legal consumption for many Spanish music fans. The movie industry will hope to see similar results in the coming year, as Netflix gets ready to launch in Spain and bring all the competitive attention that its presence in a market tends to catalyze.
In such a piracy black spot, this news represents a positive development that creators and rights holders will hope can move from short-term trend to long-term habit.
After all, the more nations that can successfully balance education with enforcement, while at the same time introducing the kind of legal content services that consumers enjoy, the more chance we have of seeing this national progress turn into a global phenomenon.