Government ramps up war on illicit streaming

There can be no doubt that streaming giants such as Netflix and Spotify have helped keep online infringement in check with innovative new streaming models, however new threats are beginning to challenge recent progress.

The Online Copyright Infringement (OCI) Tracker, commissioned by the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO), has revealed that 15% of UK internet users, approximately 7 million people, either stream or download material that infringes copyright.

Legitimate streaming has grown in popularity once again with Spotify seeing a noteworthy 7% increase in user numbers since 2016.

However, says the IPO, illicitly-adapted set top boxes, which allow users to illegally stream premium TV content such as blockbuster movies, threaten to undermine recent progress. 13% of online infringers are using streaming boxes that can be easily adapted to stream illicit content. In an effort to understand where further action might be necessary to address this problem the IPO has also published a call for views. The Government response is due to be published later this summer.

Legal streaming of music is also under threat. Stream-ripping, by which internet users remove and store content away from its original advertising-revenue generating platform, is becoming a significant problem.

A report commissioned by the IPO and PRS for Music has revealed that 15% of internet users have been involved in stream-ripping. It also reveals that nearly a quarter (24%) of “stream-rippers” believe that their action was not infringing IP rights.

The use of stream-ripping websites increased by 141.3% between 2014 and 2016. In a survey of over 9,000 people, 57% of UK adults claimed to be aware of stream-ripping services. Those who claimed to have used a stream-ripping service were significantly more likely to be male and between the ages of 16 to 34 years.

As the IPO points out: content creators deserve to be paid for their work – it is not a grey area. There has been serious progress made by the government which takes IP infringement extremely seriously and is working to tackle this emerging threat. If you feel your work is being compromised, please do get in touch.

If you need advice on Intellectual Property matters, Rothera Sharp have the team for you. Call our solicitors on 0800 088 6280 or email

Richard Hammond - Rothera Sharp Solicitors Nottingham