MediaCaroline Westwood

Piracy in the Modern World – a New Moral Reality

2CV recently conducted a piece of proprietary research into leading edge media behaviours. Rather than focus on a Nat Rep sample, and come back with trends already identified by the industry and in the media, we thought it would be more enlightening to speak to those already at the edge. People doing things a little differently. Those blazing a trail for the rest of us to follow.

Piracy in the Modern World

Three of the groups we spoke to included 'New Media Movers' (i.e. mainstream families with lots of media and tech who have started to move away from "traditional" platforms), 'IT / Tech fiends' and 'youth and teens'.

One of our most compelling and shocking findings is that there is clearly a new moral reality to contend with. Pirating content has become a normal state of affairs right across the spectrum. We should remind you that we're deliberately speaking to those at the edge… but 29%of those who are downloading or streaming free content, are doing so via "unofficial" sources.

Interestingly we imagined this kind of behaviour would be more prominent in people such as IT experts.  But anecdotally they prove to be the most conflicted about media piracy. Perhaps they are more aware of the effort and cost of IP creation or more conscious of the perils of their content consumption being policed. 

The 'New Media Movers' on the other hand (and remember these are often very mainstream families) are those who seem most comfortable with pirating.  The rate raises to a pretty staggering 44% for this audience vs a third for the full sample. 

They are happy to engage with activity they recognise is "dodgy" either by letting the kids sort it out, or a friend or relative whose job seems to be to drive new ways to attain media or share media.  

Morally they do seem very comfortable with this type of activity, because they believe that somewhere in the supply chain they have already "paid" - be this watching the film at the cinema, buying the toy, visiting the adventure park - and therefore don't always need to pay for the content itself.  They feel the content producers are making money somewhere so it doesn't feel like theft.  

It's not that they're not willing to pay for it. It's just that they don't see the need to pay for everything. And feeling that they have paid someone, somewhere helps justify this new moral reality. 

This is an issue the industry has been dealing with for years (think people recording the top hits off the radio, neighbours running wires between houses to share TV). It is time to face the new reality and work with this insight that consumers will pay, but it is about finding the right touchpoints that consumers are happy to put their hand in their pocket for.

To find out more about our proprietary research here's a copy of our Expert Report ' The Seven Predictions of Media-Savvy Consumers' that was recently published on Marketing Week. 


Caroline Westwood

Research Director

2CV London