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The Decline of Online Piracy: How Markets Not Enforcement Drive Down Copyright Infringement

Quintais, João and Poort, Joost, The Decline of Online Piracy: How Markets – Not Enforcement – Drive Down Copyright Infringement (August 14, 2019). American University International Law Review, Vol. 34 , No. 4, pp. 807-876 (2019). Available at SSRN:

“This article deals with the acquisition and consumption of music, films, series, books, and games through the various legal and illegal channels that exist nowadays, in a set of thirteen countries across the globe. The article has four aims. First, it provides an overview of the rules on liability for and enforcement of online copyright infringement in the countries studied. Second, it gives factual information about the state of authorized and unauthorized acquisition and consumption of these types of content. The third aim is to evaluate the underlying mechanisms and the link with enforcement measures and legal supply. Lastly, the article assesses the effect of online piracy on consumption from legal sources. To further these aims, the article combines different sources and empirical methods, including consumer surveys among nearly 35.000 respondents and comparative legal research. Our main conclusion is that online piracy is declining. The key driver for this decline is the increasing availability of affordable legal content, rather than enforcement measures. Where the legal supply of copyright-protected content is affordable, convenient and diverse, consumers are willing to pay for it and abandon piracy. Policymakers should therefore shift their focus from repressive approaches to tackle online infringement towards policies and measures that foster lawful remunerated access to copyright-protected content.”

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