News story

Standards for good evidence workshop

On the 13 September 2013 Ofcom and the IPO hosted a workshop to discuss what constitutes good evidence for informing copyright policy.

The event brought together copyright owners, policy makers, users of copyright works and academia. Its aim was to build on the 2012 Bournemouth University event ‘What Constitutes Evidence for Copyright Policy?’ and the IPO’s Good Evidence Guide.

Attendees heard from existing evidence and research projects and considered what more could be achieved through greater collaboration, sharing of data and methodologies; also to explore how trust can be built between all parties to improve the evidence base, and to increase research capacity and maximise the value of all our research outputs.

Summary of workshop

Welcome and introduction: Charlotte Waelde, University of Exeter

The event was chaired and facilitated by Charlotte Waelde, Professor of Intellectual Property Law at the University of Exeter and Chair of the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) Copyright Research Expert Advisory Group (CREAG). Charlotte welcomed attendees and set the tone by emphasising the need for collaboration in defining research questions and the production of good evidence.

Justin provided an overview of the latest, and final, instalment of the Ofcom Online Copyright Infringement Research. The comprehensive survey of over 20,000 people, completes the picture for the whole year and is one of the largest studies of its type anywhere in the world. Funded by the IPO, managed by Ofcom, and produced by Kantar Media, the project provides a benchmark for future studies. The survey covers music, TV, film, books, software and video game content.

Key findings in the presentation (MS Powerpoint Presentation, 1.14MB) included:

  • infringement is an activity carried out by the minority, with 17% of all internet users accessing content illegally
  • the top 10% of infringers account for 74% of all infringed content (and make up just 2% of all internet users). The top 20% of infringers account for 86% of all infringed content (and make up 3% of all internet users)
  • overall, infringers spend more on content than non-infringers (though this was driven by TV and music expenditure)
  • 44% of all internet users were not confident in knowing what is and isn’t legal
  • infringers tended to be male, C2-E, less educated but also more tech savvy
  • infringers also tend to use more outside home wifi and mobile networks (though this isn’t necessarily used for infringement)
  • making services cheaper was considered the most significant factor in encouraging infringers to stop
  • it was noted that the European Commission had issued a tender to deliver a study into displacement rates of infringers

Justin proposed five potential steps should the study be continued:

  1. More content types: Suggestions have been made to expand the study into photography and digital magazine sectors.
  2. Understanding of legality: Developing consumer understanding of how bought legal content can be used.
  3. Further understanding of how much activity, both lawful and unlawful, is taking place on mobile devices and outside of the home?
  4. Developing understanding of the impact of sanctions using behavioural economics/forecasting.
  5. The need for the study to be complemented with other research.

Richard emphasised the need for government to base policy decisions on good evidence. There are always likely to be strong and often contrasting views regarding copyright. As such, the policy formation process should always start without preconception and make use of consultation to dictate direction.

It was suggested the copyright debate was changing. Where previously it was considered necessary to change the law in response to developments in the digital age that were creating problems, Richard suggested we should be looking at whether the current system of copyright licensing can be adapted first.

Repertoire Imbalance (where copyrighted works are available in physical form, but there is little or no access to digital copies) was highlighted as an issue to address. If legal content isn’t sufficiently and consistently available, consumers will choose to find illegal alternatives. In response to this, companies such as Netflix have made content available at the same time worldwide.

Richard concluded by praising the Ofcom study and hoped it could be continued if possible.

Research on who are the infringers and how best to raise awareness with them: Liz Bales

The Industry Trust for IP Awareness is a not for profit organisation funded by the UK Audio Visual industry with the objective of reducing copyright infringement in audio visual. Liz presented an overview of the ICM conducted study which interviewed 2,720 individuals online in July and August 2013. The key objectives of the report were:

  1. Tracking the progress of the ‘Moments Worth Paying For’ campaign.
  2. Providing greater understanding of the market environment and consumer behaviour.

Although a smaller study than the Ofcom Online Copyright Infringement Research, the ICM report produced similar findings.

Key findings in the presentation (MS Powerpoint Presentation, 5.55MB) included:

  1. Recognition that those engaging in unofficial activity were also the industry’s main customers.
  2. Those engaging in unofficial activity are more likely to say they would engage in authorised activity if the unofficial sources became unavailable.
  3. Easy access and price are the most common justifications for unofficial downloading/streaming.
  4. Education is a tool to inspire and inform people where they can access more content. The ‘Moments Worth Paying For’ campaign and findanyfilm.com help ensure consumers can locate where they can purchase any film in the desired format.
  5. Collaboration with the production companies has meant information can now be embedded in film commercials. Findanyfilm.com was advertised in commercials for films such as Iron Man 3 and Despicable Me 2 to show consumers content could be accessed easily and ‘all above board’. The online surveys have shown that those who had seen the trailers have more intention to pay for the content.

Liz also provided an overview of the Industry Trust’s Sandtable study which looks at forecasting future trends in digital infringement, providing a data set that new and associated research can be added to and built upon.

Insights of the study included:

  1. An estimated 10 million UK adults are infringing in the UK, representing approximately 22% of the population. The number of young people starting online piracy each year is estimated at 500,000.
  2. The shift of preference from physical to digital content is a major driver in piracy. The uptake in subscription services could reduce the level of piracy.
  3. Economic factors do not seem to be significant in driving rates of piracy.
  4. Legal interventions will be a major weapon in shifting behaviour away from piracy.
  5. Communications are restraining the spread of piracy but on their own cannot easily lower the prevalence.
  6. The number of potential infringers suppressed by the communications strategies is estimated at 2 million.

There was clear interest from around the room about the potential for using the Sandtable method for delivering future research.

Hertfordshire University’s assessment of infringement research methodologies: Dennis Collopy

Dennis Collopy presented an overview (MS Powerpoint Presentation, 4.36MB) of the University of Hertfordshire’s review of the measurement of IPR infringement. The study, commissioned by the IPO, reviews the methodologies identifying the scale of infringement across the four main intellectual property rights: Copyright, Patents, Trade Marks and Design Rights.

The research stressed the need for transparency when conducting research. Data and methodologies are rarely disclosed due to commercial exclusivity which can have repercussions in undermining the credibility of the research. As a result, research which does not disclose methodology is often not be of a standard suitable for informing policy making.

It was suggested that a more collaborative approach between industry and government is needed, especially in the disclosure of data. Data should be made publically available as a benchmark for industry and industry generated market intelligence should be collated. A mixed approach to research combining all available sources of data was seen as the best strategy going forward.

It was shown that the IPO’s Good Evidence Guide wasn’t followed in most cases and there is often a lack of consistency in methodology and approach between research. Most research tends to be survey based and a snapshot of a certain period in time whereas it was advised that Government should carry out more social and behavioural research to complement quantitative study.

Again, there was praise for the Ofcom Kantar research and suggestion that the study should continue if possible.

IPO’s Good Evidence Guide: facilitated panel discussion

The panel discussion on the IPO’s Good Evidence Guide was chaired by Charlotte Waelde and included panellists Tony Clayton (IPO) and Tim Drye (Audiencenet).

Both panellists agreed that a more collaborative approach is needed between Government, academia and industry, and that making data public would be of benefit to all.

Tony confirmed that the IPO will amend the Good Evidence Guide after taking into account suggestions for improvement, including the addition of qualitative and case studies to complement quantitative research.

Tim emphasised the need for simple, straightforward, and transparent research with industry disclosing their data wherever possible to bolster the credibility of research. Although he acknowledged that much industry data was collected in order to gain competitive advantage and might therefore be legitimately confidential, but a common core could be useful for everyone. Tim was keen to advocate the commitment to an ongoing pragmatic process of provision of a public data assessment of volume of infringement. This would allow industry and other organisations to plan their own research knowing that they can straightforwardly and transparently link into an ongoing reference set for benchmarking and policy influence.

Closing remarks: Charlotte Waelde, University of Exeter

Charlotte provided closing remarks to the event, by recapping on those themes recurred throughout the presentations. The need of a collaborative approach between industry and government was emphasised as well as working together to construct an evidence base. The event concluded with further praise of the Ofcom Online Infringement research and disappointment that it won’t be continued further.

A number of actions were identified during the proceedings for the IPO to take forward:

  • to improve the process for specifying IP research questions to ensure they are clear and achievable - research questions commissioned are sometimes too wide or too narrow to achieve desired results;
  • developing research questions around behaviours of consumers / users and business to broaden the IPO’s enforcement building blocks; and
  • investigate the potential of the Sandtable methodology for public sector funded research.