One In Six UK Citizens Access Pirated Content

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined
as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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However nearly half of Internet users aren’t sure if they are accessing illegal content

Ofcom says that one in six Internet users in the UK believe that they have accessed illegal content, but the figure could be higher as only half are sure if what they are accessing is legal.

Sixteen percent of Internet users took part in illegal downloading between May and June of this year, with 8 percent of users accessing music. More than half said they did so because it was free, 48 percent said it was convenient and 44 percent said that it was because it was quick. Just over a quarter said that they illegally downloaded so that they could try before they buy.

However 46 percent of respondents said that they cannot confidently identify whether online content that they download, stream or share is legal. Ofcom says that this is evidence that a more concerted effort to educate and inform customers is needed.

Ofcom illegal downloading survey

Those who consumed a mixture of legal and illegal content said that they spent more money on music, films and TV programmes than those who exclusively consumed illegal or legal content. This would appear to validate the Swiss government’s decision not to outlaw the downloading of pirated content because downloaders eventually spend the money they save on other entertainment products.

Thirty-nine percent said that they would stop downloading illegal content if legal services were cheaper while 32 percent said they would cease their actions if everything they wanted was available legally. Just over one quarter said that they would stop if it was clear what content was legal and one in six said they would stop if they received one notifying letter from their ISP.

The communications watchdog says the findings are from a large scale consumer study into the extent of online copyright infringement among Internet users aged 12 and above.  The research follows a recommendation that it should start gathering independent data and establishing trends before it starts its formal reporting duties under the Digital Economy Act 2010 (DEA).

A number of ISPs have unsuccessfully tried to appeal the act, which requires that any provider with more than 400,000 customers must send notification letters to subscribers suspected of breaking copyright laws. BT, EE and TalkTalk have accused Ofcom of underestimating just how much it will cost them to comply with these rules.

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