CREATe data and evidence: introducing OMeBa

Online behaviour is changing rapidly due to technological
progress. The legal framework, and copyOMeBa-docright policy specifically, needs to keep pace with digital innovation and new business models. These changes in consumption of digital goods are also challenging existing theoretical propositions, requiring new academic attention. The use of appropriate data is crucial for the understanding of the perplexing patterns of online behaviour.

CREATe acknowledges this need and through various research projects it has explored empirically important aspects of copyright policy. Two recent resources are of particular interest: (i) the Copyright Evidence Wiki, which is available here, focuses on fully categorising all the relevant empirical studies for informed copyright policy interventions and (ii) the Online Media Behaviour analytics (OMeBa) platform, which can be found here, offers easy access to a unique data source related to online behaviour. This blog post introduces OMeBa (more information about the Copyright Evidence Wiki is available here: launch event video and slides).

Introducing OMeBa

Ofcom and the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) have invested substantial resources to develop (with the market research company Kantar) a unique dataset with rich information about online behaviour in the UK. The survey of a representative sample of the UK population aged 12+ was run consistently in 5 waves from May 2012 to May 2015, providing an exceptional source to track the evolution of online behaviour for various creative industries. Surprisingly, researchers and policy makers have not yet engaged in a detailed longitudinal analysis of this data.

CREATe identified a need in the academic, policy and industry communities for more direct access and has developed a user-friendly website, OMeBa offering easy access to this database. OMeBa provides access to all 5 waves allowing effortless comparison both across variables and across time. OMeBa is available here:

There are two main benefits to using the OMeBa tool. First, it provides a simple way to access and download the raw data obtained through the survey research. These data have been linked with their original survey questions for ease-of-use, and have been validated in replication exercises. Secondly, the OMeBa tool allows researchers to quickly select and visualise statistics from key questions contained in any of the waves, and compare the results over time. For instance, the data suggest that the proportion of individuals who acquired access to books solely through infringing behaviour increased from 4% in 2013 to 6% in 2015, while for films there was a 10% decrease in reported illegal downloading over the same period, with 77% of consumers claiming in 2015 that their downloads were always legal. This is just an illustrative example of the possibilities offered by the interface. The presence of this data visualisation and extraction web tool is anticipated to inform future policy interventions based on evidence.

Overall, OMeBa attempts to contribute to evidence-based policy making by bringing an important dataset closer to policymakers, researchers and entrepreneurs, allowing a better examination of online behaviour and the design of informed policies for the creative industries that would promote innovation, economic prosperity and social welfare in an increasingly globalised digital economy.

Please read our documentation, which offers a detailed explanation on how to use OMeBa, with key examples and several visualisations:

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