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U.K. Digital Content Piracy Rises Slightly

A study finds that 18 percent of British Internet users aged 12 or older illegally accessed content, with music being the most popular form of pirated entertainment.

LONDON - About 30 percent of U.K. Internet users who accessed digital content illegally streamed or downloaded films, TV shows or music at least once in the most recent quarter for which data is available, according to British media regulator Ofcom.

The quarterly report also found that 18 percent of web users who are 12 or older -- the report's focus group -- illegally accessed entertainment files, up from 16 percent in the previous quarter.

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Overall, Ofcom's latest report for the three months ended in mid-January concluded that digital piracy rose slightly over the previous quarter. "There are few significant differences in the results of this latest wave" and those of the previous report, Ofcom said. But it called the increase in the percentage of Internet users aged 12-plus who infringed copyrighted material online "small but (just) significant."

However, Ofcom also found that more Internet users, 60 percent compared with 57 percent in the previous period, used digital entertainment content in the latest quarter.

Music remains the most popular form of digital content that gets pirated in the U.K. Out of a total of 386 million pirated content files in the latest quarter, 280 million were music files, Ofcom reporter.

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TV shows came in second with 52 million instances of piracy, followed by films with 29 million. Computer software and video games ranked lowest, with 7 million instances of piracy. The study also tracked piracy of e-books.

The overall piracy rate rose from 30 percent to 33 percent among those who watch films online, according to Ofcom.

Of the people who pirated content, 59 percent were men, and 68 percent were under the age of 34. The most popular reason cited for illegally streaming or downloading content was "free, convenient and quick" access.

Research firm Kantar Media conducted the study for Ofcom.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com
Twitter: @georgszalai