A few years ago Europe witnessed the largest piracy-related busts in history with the raid of the popular movie streaming portal Kino.to.
Police officers in Germany, Spain, France and the Netherlands raided several residential addresses, data centers and arrested more than a dozen individuals connected to the site.
The operation wiped out the largest unauthorized streaming portal in Europe and was praised as a massive success. However, new research from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre shows that the effect on end users was short-lived and relatively limited.
In a working paper titled “Online Copyright Enforcement, Consumer Behavior, and Market Structure” researchers examined clickstream data for a set of 5,000 German Internet users to see how their legal and illegal consumption habits changed in response to the shutdown.
One of the main conclusions is that the kino.to raid led to a short-lived decrease in piracy, after which piracy levels returned to normal. At the same time, the researchers observed only a small increase in the use of legal services.
It appears that while users of kino.to decreased their levels of piracy consumption by 30% during the four weeks following the intervention, their consumption through licensed movie platforms increased by only 2.5%,” the paper reads.
Based on the above the researchers conclude that if the costs of the raids and prosecution are factored in, the shutdown probably had no positive effect.
One of the policy implications could be to advise against these type of large piracy raids, as they do very little to solve the problem at hand.
However, the researchers note that the results should be interpreted with caution. For example, it doesn’t include any data on offline sales. Similarly, back in 2011 there were relatively few legal options available, so the effects may be different now.
That said, the current findings shed an interesting light on the limited effectiveness of international law enforcement actions directed at piracy sites.