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Cypriots admit illegal access to digital content

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Some 16% of Cypriots admit to accessing online content illegally, especially to watch sports, the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) said in a report.

It added that 54% of Cypriot consumers were unsure whether a product was genuine, while 17% reported buying fakes intentionally.

The 2023 IP Perception survey gathered insights into European consumers’ attitudes towards Intellectual Property, with 25,824 online interviews.

According to the study, a clear majority of Europeans say they have a fairly good or very good understanding of the concept of IP, with 80% agreeing that counterfeiting supports criminal organisations and ruins businesses and jobs.

Regarding piracy, 82% of Europeans agree obtaining digital content through illegal sources entails a risk of harmful practices (scams or inappropriate content for minors).

Despite these positive results, the study also reveals that a third of Europeans find it acceptable to buy counterfeits if the price of the genuine product is too high, with 13% having bought counterfeits intentionally in the last 12 months.

The proportion of consumers that have intentionally purchased fakes varies from 24% in Bulgaria to 8% in Finland, while apart from Bulgaria, buying fakes intentionally is above the EU average in Spain (20%), Ireland (19%), Luxembourg (19%), and Romania (18%).

Lower prices for genuine products remain the most frequently cited reason (43%) for stopping the purchase of counterfeit goods, with the risk of a bad experience (poor quality products for 27%, safety risks for 25% and penalties for 21%) also being key factors preventing consumers from buying counterfeit goods.

Disparities between Member States are also significant, with around a quarter of consumers in Denmark and the Netherlands (26%) saying they were unsure whether the product they bought was genuine, which rises to 72% in Romania.

Europeans also show uncertainty about the legality of the sources they use for online content, with 41% wondering whether a source accessed was legal.

EUIPO Executive Director Christian Archambeau said the study provides new relevant insights into the perception of infringement of intellectual property rights, underlines the need to support consumer protection, and confirms positive developments regarding the awareness and availability of digital content from legal sources.

According to the study, Europeans are generally opposed to pirated content, with 80% stating that they prefer to use legal sources to access online content as long as an affordable option is available.

Nearly 9 in 10 people know at least one legal option for accessing the content in their country, and over 4 in 10 Europeans (43%) have paid to access, download or stream copyright-protected material from a legal service in the past year.

Most Europeans (65%) find piracy acceptable when content is unavailable on their subscription service.

Moreover, 14% of Europeans admit to having intentionally accessed content from illegal sources in the last 12 months, rising to 1 in 3 (33%) for 15–24-year-olds, especially when watching sports using illicit streaming devices or apps.

People accessing pirated content varies per country, ranging from 9% in Finland and Denmark to 22% in Malta.

Better affordability and a wider choice of content from legal sources are the most mentioned reasons for moving away from pirated content.