BBC News features an article that is based around research carried by the Cybernorms research group at the Lund University in Sweden. Their research reveals a 40% rise in the use of VPN systems by the 15 to 25 year age group since 2009 in Sweden.
A regular comment by people in response to crackdowns on copyright infringement is that they will simply use methods by proxies and VPNs to obscure their real identity, and this research in Sweden is perhsps the first firm evidence that this is happening. This means that comments from various media bodies that blocks across Europe of The Pirate Bay have reduced the amount of access to it need to be considered in the light, that while easily tracked access may have reduced, the use of the sites like Pirate Bay and its competitors may simply be appearing to come from another country.
"The aim of such blocking is not to turn off the tap but to make it as inconvenient as possible to get to such services.
"VPNs add an extra layer of complexity and young people have to pay £5 or £6 a month to use them, which means some of the reasons for doing it are lost."Independent music analyst Mark Mulligan
To claim users shifting to VPNs is a victory is odd, particularly as some of these people will be paying for the VPN service termination in a safe haven. Surely it should only be seen as a victory if those VPN users were subscribing to a music or film delivery service that meets their needs. The situation in the UK with regards to film and TV series is a perfect illustration, as some studios have exclusive arrangements, or do not put their material on legal services at all, and for older films it can be cheaper to buy the DVD from a supermarket, than rent it from a digital service.
Where the media industry will stop in its pursuit is unknown, if VPN systems become the tool of choice for file sharing, how long before a campaign starts to block VPN end-points that are outside the UK on services aimed at consumers?