One in four downloads in UK illegal, says Ofcom

12th September 2013

Almost a quarter of downloads from the internet in the UK represent copyright infringements, whilst three quarters of illegal downloads are carried out by just 2% of internet users.

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These are some of the key findings in a new report written for Ofcom – the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries and a Get Safe Online partner.

Some of the most active internet users involved in piracy access "vast amounts" of infringing content. However, pirates also spend more money on legal downloading and streaming than people who do not access illegal content, spending an average of £26 every three months compared with £16 by legal downloaders.

The report – carried out for Ofcom by Kantar Media – was conducted over a year and involved processing over 21,000 responses to four surveys. It covered downloading and streaming of music, films, games, TV programmes and computer software. Films constituted the most common illegally downloaded and streamed content, with 35% of the total number of films viewed online being done so illegally.

Those infringing the most claimed that they had already spent enough on content, and that legal content was too pricey. The top 20% were likely to have streamed content outside their home network or used mobile technology, hindering enforcement.

Potential deterrents did not seem to have an effect on many of the pirates surveyed, with only a quarter saying they would stop if they thought they might be sued, and a fifth saying they would stop if they received a letter from their internet service provider informing them of the infringement.

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