BRUSSELS: Education could play an important role in reducing video piracy, according to a global survey that found nearly half (48%) of consumers would stop or watch less pirated content after learning the damage it causes to the media industry.

That is the conclusion of Irdeto, a Dutch digital platform security firm, which released its Global Consumer Piracy Survey to coincide with last week's Cable Congress in Brussels, Belgium.

Based on responses from more than 25,000 adults across 30 countries, the Irdeto study found more than half (52%) watch pirated video content but, as shown, a similar proportion would change their viewing habits when they understand the impact of piracy.

Such willingness to change is most pronounced in Latin America (59%) and APAC (55%) once consumers learn that piracy causes revenue losses at studios and harms investment in future content creation.

"With more than half of consumers openly admitting to watching pirated content, it is crucial that the industry tackle piracy head-on," said Doug Lowther, Irdeto's CEO.

"To do so will require technology and services to protect the legal content as well as a comprehensive education programme to help change the behaviour of consumers. Coupled with a 360-degree anti-piracy strategy, the market is fully prepared to take the battle against piracy to the next level."

However, the media industry faces a number of challenges because the survey also revealed that only 45% of consumers in Europe and 38% in the US would stop or watch less pirated content.

To change habits in these mature markets, Irdeto recommended education initiatives that highlight how piracy is often linked to criminal organisations and that pirated content could include malware aimed at stealing personal data.

That said, the overall proportion of consumers who admit to video piracy is much lower in Europe (45%) and the US (32%) than in APAC (61%) and Latin America (70%).

"These results indicate that consumers in Europe and the US have more access to the content they desire, reducing their need to watch pirated content," the report said.

The survey also found that, while many global consumers recognise that producing or sharing pirated video content is illegal (70%), far fewer are aware that streaming or downloading is also against the law (59%).

Russia is a notable exception where a "staggering" 87% of respondents do not think producing or sharing pirated video content is illegal. In addition, 66% believe that it is not illegal to download or stream pirated video content.

"The results of this survey show that many countries are open to change," concluded Rory O'Connor, VP of Services at Irdeto.

"To elicit this change in consumer habits will take a concerted effort from all the industry players to not only educate consumers about the negative impact of piracy, but also continued innovation to address the three elements of consumer choice – content, value and convenience."

Data sourced from Irdeto; additional content by Warc staff