Press release

Online copyright infringement down as people turn to streaming

New research commissioned by the IPO shows fall in online infringement and steep rise in consumer use of streaming.

  • highest level of streaming to date revealed by new report
  • fall in infringement with nearly 45 % consuming ‘exclusively legal’ content
  • approximately 7 million internet users still accessing some illegal content
  • Minister for Intellectual Property encourages “…fight against IP infringement in all its forms.”

The meteoric rise of streaming services such as Spotify and Netflix may be having a chilling effect on illegal copyright infringement according to new research.

Kantar Media’s Online Copyright Infringement Tracker, commissioned by the UK Intellectual Property Office, has shown that over half (52%) of internet users consuming content online now use streaming services. While downloading content is becoming comparatively less popular (39%).

Respondents who stream cited convenience and cost as two of the main reasons for doing so. Spotify, the music streaming giant, has seen a 3% rise in new UK users in just 12 months.

The rise of streaming has coincided with a small but significant drop in online copyright infringement. For the first time, those consuming content from exclusively legal sources has risen to 44%, a 3% increase since the end of 2015.

Despite this positive trend, online infringement continues to have a major impact on the creative industries, with music and film hit hardest.

Kantar estimates that over 78 million music tracks were accessed illegally online in the past three months with TV shows and films illegally accessed more than 50 million times in the same period. 1 in 20 internet users are exclusively consuming illegal content.

Baroness Neville-Rolfe, Minister for Intellectual Property, said:

Online copyright infringement has been a running sore for the UK’s creative industries for far too long. I am extremely pleased to see that there has been a decline in infringement and that consumers appear to be turning towards legitimate streaming en masse.

There is, however, more to do. This government is committed to fighting against IP theft in all its forms and supporting the hard work of our creative industries. I am pleased that we are joining forces internationally to improve our knowledge of online infringement.

Eddy Leviten, Director General of the Alliance for Intellectual Property, said:

It is encouraging to see that more UK consumers are choosing legitimate content sources, thereby supporting creators and creative businesses.

However, illegal content is still finding an outlet in UK homes and that’s why we need better collaboration to drive down availability and access to pirate websites. Government has a crucial role to play if the UK’s creative industries are to continue to grow.

Notes to Editors

The UK Intellectual Property Office is responsible for Intellectual Property (IP) rights in the United Kingdom, including patents, designs, trade marks and copyright.

Kantar Media is a global leader in media intelligence, providing clients with the data they need to make informed decisions on all aspects of media measurement, monitoring and selection. Part of Kantar, the data investment management arm of WPP, Kantar Media provides the most comprehensive and accurate intelligence on media consumption, performance and value. For further information, please visit

The Online Copyright Infringement Tracker is a large-scale consumer tracking survey that samples over 5000 individuals aged 12+ to examine the online copyright infringement and wider digital behaviours of the UK population.

Published 5 July 2016