83% of All Music, Film & TV Piracy Is Motivated by a Lack of Paid Options, Study Claims

According to research group Muso, most people know that piracy is wrong, but do it anyway.

Want to know the reason why people pirate media content?  Because they can’t find any legal alternatives.  That’s according to a new study published by British anti-piracy firm, Muso.

Apparently, this is a bigger problem than the industry thinks.  The group previously found that piracy rose 1.6% around the world in 2017.

Surveying 1,000 UK adults via CitizenMe, an app that rewards users for completing surveys, Muso found that 60% admitted to illegally downloading or streaming music, film, and TV programs.  Of those, a whopping 83% they had tried to find the content on existing streaming services before pirating.

Of course, these are self-reported surveys, which can lead to serious inaccuracies.  That’s especially true when it comes to piracy, given that the activity being self-reported is illegal.  Still, a very large percentage admitted to piracy.

53% felt that accessing content illegally is wrong, but did it anyway.  But, why?


35.2% of respondents cited a cost barrier as the reason behind illegal downloads and content streaming.  Basically, they can’t afford to download or stream music, movies, and TV series legally.

34.9% claimed they couldn’t find their preferred media content on existing subscription services or channels.  34.7% said that companies simply hadn’t made the content available where they live.  They had only pirated media content to circumvent that problem.

Speaking on the study’s surprising results, Paul Briley, CCO of Muso, said,

The reality is that the majority of people who have gone through the effort of finding and accessing such unlicensed content are, first and foremost, fans – fans who are more often than not trying to get content legally if they can.

In fact, the survey’s next findings support his hypothesis.

A whopping 86% of all respondents have already subscribed to a streaming service, including Netflix and Amazon Prime to watch their favorite movies and TV shows.  To stream their favorite music, a large percentage had an existing subscription to Spotify Premium or Apple Music.  Among admitted ‘pirates,’ the number jumped to 91%.

The study underscores one key fact.  The growing availability of streaming services – whether music, film, or television – has yet to eliminate existing piracy habits.  In fact, music and media companies may never completely eradicate piracy.

Briley continued,

“There is a prevailing myth that streaming services have killed piracy, but unfortunately this just isn’t the case…  The fact that nine out of ten people who are accessing unlicensed content also have legal subscription services, simply supports the fact that subscription services haven’t solved the problem for content owners or consumers.”

So, how can music and media companies fix this problem in the long run?  According to Bailey, they should make an effort to engage with their existing audience.

If content owners accept that these are high-intent audiences, they can explore new ways of making their content more readily discoverable, engage these audiences, and create new revenue opportunity in the process.


Featured image by Steve Parkinson (CC by 2.0)

14 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    I can’t afford a private jet. I don’t think the airline I usually fly on offers private jets as an option. I not quite sure what would be involved with attempting to steal a private jet, and kidnapping a pilot capable of flying it, but I imagine it would be somewhat difficult, and likely result in prison. So I think the answer is, I just don’t use a private jet to travel. But there are plenty of relatively inexpensive commercial flights on Netflix these days.

    This may seem like a radical concept, but I don’t think we are entitled to watch the movies we want to watch, or listen to the songs we want to listen to, anymore than we are entitled to travel using a preferred mode of transportation. It seems that this concept is lost on most people. Call me cynical, but I believe if stealing private jets were easy and without consequence, there would be a lot more people stealing them. People pirate because they can.

    • Tenn Tux

      What’s your take on libraries? Communism?

      • Paul Resnikoff

        The library’s an interesting one. Taxpayers pay for the books, and even if they’re donated, somebody (theoretically) bought the book.

        But popular books are often hard to get at libraries. Especially when they first come out. Then you have to return them or pay a fee. And you can’t give a library book away as a gift. So there’s a rough analogy to ‘freemium’ there: pay, and you get the book all you want, for as long as you want.

        I’d be interested in seeing the studies here. But I’d guess that libraries increase book sales, or at least don’t damage them.

        • Anonymous

          So really, we just have to convince all the pirates to start going to the library more often.

        • Tenn Tux

          Libraries loan music and videos, too. All manner of discs. Easy to rip.

          Photocopy machines abound. In libraries.

          That part about the library buying the work, that’s funny. Was true about Napster, too — the original shared was almost always purchased by someone.

          Whatever distinction you are seeking, I’m not sure I get it. Libraries, museums are about equalizing access to culture. That’s the goal.

          If free exposure damages art, the Mona Lisa is now worthless. But she’s not.

    • blah blah blah

      They do it because they can. Spotify is free to use. YouTube is free (but largely pirated)… so, ok scrap that… But yeah, people pirate because there are no consequences for doing so… it’s that simple.

    • Captain Vallo

      Terrible analogy. If someone steals a private jet, then nobody else will be able to use that jet. If someone pirates a movie he wasn’t going to pay to see for whatever reason including affordability, he doesn’t keep anybody else from seeing it.

  2. Remi Swierczek

    Another study proving that we can convert 300,000 global Radio, TV staions and movie theaters and over 5,000,000+ busy public places to PRIMITIVE discovery based music stores! All we need is a fair use act preventing Apple/Shazam, Google (the biggest Shazam) and 10 similar but totally destitute music and lyric ID scam bags form free MUSIC PIMPING.
    PLAY THE BEST and charge for addition to personal playlists.

    • Remi Swierczek


      My wrong there is 169K of just movie theaters with all FRESH film music ready for Shazam, Google cash registers in new “movie theater music stores” environment!

      BORAT’s no brainer with cash for Google -Apple MONKS, movie theater operators …and musicians!

      Paul, do you know the name of human, besides IGNORANT and ARROGANT Larry Page, who can pull music from UMG created suicide?

  3. Sam @ Projekt Records

    “Your honor, the only reason I robbed the liquor store was the ‘cost barrier’ between me and the vodka I wanted. I know it was wrong, but if that vodka had been available for free, I never would have stolen it.”

    And this is acceptable logic? Why?

  4. some rando

    You’re all missing the point. Streaming services don’t compete for our business, they compete with each other to get monopolies on shows or as they call them, exclusives. As a result, these services will never be driven to be better for the consumer (eg. better UI or better features) because all they need to care about are the shows.
    If you’ve notice a decline in quality on the services you have, this is why. I believe most people pirate because it’s not worth the money for a subpar service. That doesn’t make it right, but this is a sign that these services have lost touch with their consumer bases.