EU study on Copyright awareness: More needs to be done to demonstrate value of IP to society

A study commissioned by the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM), through the European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property has found that while a large majority of citizens support copyright in principle they feel that infringement is justified in particular circumstances.

The study of over 26,500 Europeans showed that 96% of Europeans believe that Intellectual Property (IP) is important because it supports innovation and creativity by rewarding inventors, creators and artists for their work and 69% value IP because they believe it contributes to the creation of jobs and economic well-being. However an average of 34% thinks that buying counterfeit goods can be justified to save money and 22% think downloading is acceptable when there is no legal alternative. The difference between the two opinions can be explained, according to the study, by the fact that many of those questioned believe that IP does not benefit them personally or that the IP system does not meet their expectations, in areas like price, availability, diversity or quality. It concludes that efforts should be made to demonstrate the value that intellectual property brings to European citizens in their day-to-day lives - especially for the younger generations.

IFRRO shares the report’s concern about this disconnect between theory and practice and highlights the fact that a series of reports have already established the positive value of IP on the economy. A 2012 report by the World Intellectual Property Organisation, built on data from 30 countries, showed that the creative industries contribute on average 5.4% to GDP and 5.9% to national employment. These findings were echoed in the same year in an Australian report indicating that Australian copyright industries contributed 6.6% of GDP, 8% of employment and accounted for 2.9% of exports. Also last year, a PwC report in the UK, showed that income from secondary uses was vital to authors and publishers to enable them to continue producing text books. A loss of 20% for authors could mean a diminution of 29% in their output or the equivalent of about 2,870 works.

The full OHIM report is available here and the Executive Summary here.