Digital piracy in Spain has experienced another decline in absolute figures, according to the Observatory of Piracy and Consumption Habits of Digital Content 2020 report. The data shows another 7% annual drop in access to illegal content. A total of 5.239 billion pieces of illegal content were still accessed during the year, although this represents a cumulative decrease of 10% since 2018 and around 24% since 2015.

The damage of piracy to the Spanish economy is estimated at €2.416 billion euros in this period. Without piracy, the Spanish economy could have received €682 million euros during 2020, a figure that rises to €5.34 billion since 2012, and 130,000 direct and indirect jobs could have been created.

These are some of the main findings collected by the study, prepared by the independent consultancy GfK at the request of the Coalition presented by the Minister of Culture and Sports. Aside from GfK’s analysis, the report features a survey of over 3,000 Spanish consumers to discover their consumption of, and attitudes towards, pirated content.


Regarding access to content, the book industry is the most affected, with 33% of surveyed individuals accessing pirated novels, followed by movies (26%), music (25%), newspapers (25%), football (23%), TV series (21%), video games (20%), magazines (18%) and sheet music (5%). The total value of this content amounts to €30.892 billion euros.

Of the €2.416 billion euros of damage reported, music suffered estimated losses of €482 million, magazines €426 million, newspapers €345 million, movies €322 million, books €240 million, football €231 million, video games €205 million, TV series €138 million and sheet music €28 million.

Among the reasons that justify illicit access to content, 4 out of 10 consumers claimed “not knowing how to distinguish between legal / illegal platforms”, while 54% argue that they do so because they already pay for an Internet connection or pay television.

Other justifications were “to avoid paying for content that later I don’t like” (61%) and “because I cannot access the content in another way, for example, original version, with subtitles…” (37%).

Conversely, 8 out of 10 consumers found it “important” to be able to access cultural and entertainment content during the COVID-enforced lockdown and 6 out of 10 consider that “cultural creators and industries are a strategic sector for the economy and employment in our country”, the same percentage that affirms that there is, in our country, a sufficient legal offer to consume / access culture.


The use of social networks remains a central means to access illegal content (rising from 23% to 27% in 2020). The most common platforms were Facebook (55%), YouTube (39%), WhatsApp (34%), Instagram (28%) Telegram (25%) or Twitter (24%).

Likewise, online streaming grew (from 22% in 2019 to 23% in 2020), for the fifth consecutive year. Regarding the form of access to illegal content, there is a slight decrease in the weight of search engines, going from 62% to 58% registered in 2019, with Google remaining the most used: 9 out of 10 accesses to pirated content are produced from your search results.

In a particularly worrying finding, 28% of Internet users reported having an IPTV decoder and 21% have accessed a VPN for personal use, while 40% of Internet users have made use of tutorials about how to access pirate content.

Of these, 18% have consulted guides on how to download content, 7% have sought help to obtain or use platforms and 15% have used manuals for both purposes. Regarding the type of tutorial, the most consulted are those referring to movies / series (42%), followed by music (41%), video games (31%), the use of a VPN (27%), books (23%), modifying a console (21%), the use of an IPTV (17%), football (13%) and the use of cardsharing (3%).

The percentage of websites offering illegal content that are financed by advertising remains above 90%, as in previous years. Of all this advertising, adverts for online gambling and betting sites increased to 51%, 41% to online sales websites or 33% to prestigious brand consumer products.

In addition to advertising, these sites collect data that pirates fraudulently collect in databases, which they later trade for high prices in the market. More than two-thirds of Internet users (65%) had to register as a user giving personal data (email 55%, mobile 17%, complete an opinion survey 17%).


In a scenario without piracy, the report finds, more than 20,000 new direct jobs could be created, which would mean an increase of 24%, which plus the indirect ones would mean 130,318 jobs.

Due to piracy, the Spanish economy did not receive almost €424 million in VAT and more than €59 million in personal income tax, while the amount not collected by Social Security reached almost €200 million in terms of contributions.

Emilio Fernández del Castillo, director of LaLiga Content Protection, said:

“We have the equipment, the technology and the knowledge to deal with the scourge that is audiovisual piracy, behind which there are organisations that profit from the work of legitimate creators, but to win this game there is a lack of a legal tool that allows content to be blocked in a fast and agile way.”

Carlota Navarrete, general director of La Coalición, added:

“We cultural creators and industries demand a new effort to consolidate the advances that have been taking place in recent years. On the one hand, we need to swiftly apply the recently approved European regulations in a way that adequately protects copyright and further, we need to strengthen the structures and provide greater resources for the defense and promotion of content, as the basis of a strategic sector for employment, the economy and international competitiveness of our country.”


During 2020, a total of 71 million football matches were illegally viewed, at a value of €282 million euros, (causing €231 million of damage). The number of matches watched illegally decreased compared to 2019, where 87 million matches were viewed, but the number of consumers who access to watch football through illegal portals remained the same.

As the organiser of the professional football competitions in Spain, LaLiga suffers the effects of sports piracy in Spain acutely, and six years ago began developing its own tools to combat this threat. The result is Content Protection, a combination of AI-powered monitoring software and over 20 expert analysts who coordinate with online providers and legal authorities to secure the content’s removal.

The most recent results show Content Protection removed over 1.5 million illegal sources of LaLiga content in the last season, while its team secured blocking orders to 23 different web domains and complaints against the operators of 32 IPTV websites.

Content Protection now forms part of LaLiga Tech, the sports technology offering created by LaLiga. On top of its own competition, Content Protection has removed hundreds of thousands of illegal content sources for global clients including Dorna Sports, Belgium’s Jupiler Pro League and Sky Mexico.

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