Study: EU Citizens Value IP, Yet Find Some Infringement Acceptable

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By Catherine Saez

The European Union Office of Harmonization for the Internal Market (OHIM) has released a study showing that most EU citizens are aware of and value intellectual property, but about a third of them find infringement acceptable in certain circumstances.

The report titled “European Citizens and Intellectual Property: Perception, Awareness and Behaviour” [pdf] was based on a survey of 26,500 people aged 15 and over in all of 28 EU member countries between December 2012 and August 2013. It was commissioned by OHIM in the framework of the Programme of the European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights.

The research found that European citizens are largely in favour of IP rights, considering them “a pillar of the economic and social organisation,” and do not readily admit to having engaged in IP infringing behaviours over the last 12 months.

However, a third of them may find it acceptable to resort to IP infringement “to cope with the consequences of limited purchasing power or to protest against an economic model driven by a market economy and premium brands,” according to the report. The largest portion in this category was among younger users.

This paradox might find its roots in the lack of understanding of IP value, and the belief that IP rights only benefits “the business and artistic elites,” the report said.


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