(Update on 6 June 2016: We corrected some quotes in this article which referred to a different but related report)
On 6 April, the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO, formerly known as OHIM) published its report on “Youth and IP”, which followed the 2013 study on “European Citizens and Intellectual Property: Perception, Awareness and Behaviour”. The survey tracks citizens’ perception of “intellectual property” (IP) and the relevant drivers of consumer behaviour.
The study is relevant in light of a planned copyright reform on the European level, which is supposed to replace the current outdated and fragmented regime. The study covers the views of young people in all 28 Member States of the EU, and examines their perception related to “IP”. It analyses the reasons behind infringements. Among other conclusions, the report shows that law-abiding citizens do not just turn into “criminals” when they go online. Unsurprisingly, the incoherence and lack of modernisation of the current copyright regime brings uncertainty of young EU citizens with regard to copyright.
- 22% of youth did not know if they were using legal or illegal sources to access content.
- 13% used illegal sources by “accident”, and 24% could not tell the difference between legal and illegal source of digital content.
- 58% of young people said they would stop using illegal sources if affordable content from legal sources was available
- 85% of those who do not know if the sources they use are illegal or legal cannot determine the legality of the source
In that context, the survey from 2013 on “IP perception, Awareness and Behaviour” has already sent another message: The gap between “IP” perceptions and behaviour may also find its source in the fact that Europeans feel “IP” mostly benefits businesses and an elite class. Europeans name as the main beneficiaries of “IP”:
- 43% big businesses and show businesses
- 37% inventors, 31% creators
- 20% artists, 16% SMEs
- 15% politicians
Finally, this year’s report on “Youth and IP” examines the reasons and justifications for the intentional use of unauthorised sources amongst young people. The results range from financial reasons, to practicability or the conviction of “doing nothing wrong”. The report shows that 69% of youngsters deliberately choose illegal sources because they are cheaper or even free of charge. Around a third access illegal sources intentionally because of access triggers such as rapid availability, the lack of need to register before accessing digital content or just because the variety of content is bigger and easier to find. In addition to this, 40% of them said that they intentionally use illegal sources because they not perceive it as a negative act because it is done for personal use only.
If the new legal framework wants to bring an end to this outdated system that is widely perceived as illegitimate, we must rethink which role and purpose copyright should have in our society. Future-oriented legislation must therefore go hand in hand with freedom of expression and information, the right to science, and culture, balanced with a appropriate remuneration for creators. The copyright reform initiated by the European Commission needs to take all of these issues into consideration and go for a broad, ambitious and innovative reform of the EU copyright law, and not only paper over some of the problems.
EUIPO: Full report- Intellectual Property and Youth Scoreboard 2016 (04/2016)
EUIPO: Executive summary – Intellectual Property and Youth Scoreboard 2016 (04/2016)
EUIPO: Report on “Intellectual Property: Perception, Awareness and Behaviour” 2013 (11/2013)
EDRi: Commission launches consultations on ancillary copyright and panorama (06.04.2016)
EDRi: Copyright reform: Restoring the facade of a decrepit building. (16.12.2015)
(Contribution by Claudius Determann, EDRi trainee)