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Industry / Market - Sweden/Denmark/Finland/Norway

Industry Report: Market Trends

Cineuropa asks the experts: “Why is piracy increasing in the Nordic countries?”


According to the latest figures published by Mediavision, 17% of all people aged 15-74 in the region illegally streamed or downloaded films and TV episodes last month

Cineuropa asks the experts: “Why is piracy increasing in the Nordic countries?”
Allan Bartroff, of the Danish Rights Alliance, and Jaana Pihkala, of Finland’s Copyright Information and Anti-Piracy Centre

“Piracy still poses a problem to the video industry in the Nordics,” claims Mediavision, an independent analysis and consultancy firm based in Sweden. According to the figures for May 2022 published by the research outfit, there are 3.4 million pirates in the region, which demonstrates the increasing number of users who illegally stream or download films and TV episodes, even compared to 2021 (2.9 million). The survey involved some 6,700 respondents aged 15-74.

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“However, the figures vary between countries. Piracy in Sweden is highest, at 20% [as opposed to 17% in 2021], and lowest in Finland and Denmark, both at 13% [both at 12% in 2021, whilst Norway stands at 18%, up by 4%]. In total, this amounts to approximately 3.4 million pirates in the Nordics, which is around 500,000 more than last year,” states the report.

The figures for 2021 (© Mediavision)

“Piracy has been a big challenge for rights holders in the Nordics for many years. Even though the use of legal services is widespread, piracy is still high. This shows that availability is not the only factor that influences piracy. Other measures will be needed if these figures are to be brought down,” said Natalia Borelius, senior analyst at Mediavision.

We asked Allan Bartroff, of the Danish Rights Alliance, and Jaana Pihkala, of Finland’s Copyright Information and Anti-Piracy Centre, a few questions about these trends.

According to Bartroff, piracy figures remain high in Denmark (albeit lower than in Sweden) because even though the country applies “efficient blocking of ‘traditional’ illegal services”, there is also a movement of users accessing illegal offerings on the legal online sharing platforms. “In addition to that, we see an increase in illegally shared passwords to streaming services and increased use of IPTV. [Besides], an increasing number of infringers are using VPN and alternative DNS services,” said Bartroff.

Commenting on how such trends may change in Denmark in the future, he added: “We hope to see a drop [in the figures] as our work with social-media platforms becomes effective and as we, at the same time, have been drawing attention to the illegal use of streaming services and IPTV. We consider the co-operation between rights holders, online service providers and public authorities to be key for effective enforcement.”

According to Bartroff, these figures demonstrate that “intensive work and trustful interaction between rights holders and law enforcement have made an effective impact on the illegal activities in the Danish market” but also that “IP criminals adapt quickly to new digital markets and trends”. In addition, spreading information among users about safety and the consequences of their actions remains a crucial element in discouraging illegal activities.

Pihkala argues that “although there are still many torrent services among the most-used pirate services”, the recent hike “comes, in part, from the increased use of illegal IPTV and streaming services. [...] It may be tempting from a consumer point of view to use a cheaper, or even free, illegal service instead of subscribing to legal content services. The user also evaluates the risk of getting caught and facing the consequences when making that choice – for instance, in Finland, many people say that YouTube is their primary source of illegal content, as they know there is no risk associated with watching YouTube,” she further explained.

Pihkala mentioned the impact of regular copyright awareness-raising campaigns carried out among youngsters and a number of high-profile criminal cases, which attracted wide media coverage so that Finns could be made aware of the consequences of using pirate services.

“I believe that this tactic was successful, as the piracy figures remained quite low, and most people didn’t approve of piracy and had a positive view on copyrights.

“The internet intermediary services need to be involved in the fight against piracy. The legislator must update the enforcement tools; for instance, it is very hard and expensive to get a blocking injunction in Finland. This is what we need to tackle the problem; otherwise, the piracy figures will just continue to grow,” she concluded.

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