U.K. Media Watchdog Ofcom Report: Internet Users Who Pay More, Steal More

10:34 AM PST 09/11/2013 by Stuart Kemp

The primary objective of the study was "to gather data and generate insights that could be used to assist [government] policymaking related to online copyright enforcement."

LONDON – Almost a fifth of those using the Internet infringed at least one copyright -- illegal downloads of films, TV and music included -- between May 2012 and May 2103, according to a report compiled for and published by media watchdog Ofcom.

But the research also indicated that just 2 percent of Internet users were responsible for 74 percent of all online copyright infringement.

And those breaking the rules accounted for 32 percent by volume and 40 percent by spend of legally consumed digital content, shelling out more on average than noninfringers on both digital and physical content, Ofcom's report said.

During an average three-month period, infringers tend to spend more than noninfringers on legal digital content. That works out to be $41 (£26) versus $25 (£16), according to the data.

The Intellectual Property Office funded Ofcom to conduct research intended to improve understanding of consumers' behavior and attitudes toward lawful and unlawful access of copyrighted material using the Internet in early 2012. The report is the fruit of Ofcom's labors.

The primary objective was "to gather data and generate insights that could be used to assist [government] policymaking related to online copyright enforcement."

Kantar Media, which conducted the research, processed a total of 21,475 survey responses across the four waves during the year from May 2012 through May 2013.

The research demonstrated a clear demand for online access to copyrighted material, with well over half (58 percent) of Internet users downloading or streaming at least one item during the year.

That said, Ofcom described infringement as "a minority activity," estimating that 17 percent of Internet users consumed at least one item of infringing content, which equates to around a third (29 percent) of all consumers of online content.

When considering individual content types in isolation, infringement levels varied, "but in absolute terms were low," Ofcom said.

Music was the hardest hit, but even then, fewer than one in 10 (9 percent) Internet users infringed.

For software and video games, the figure dropped to just 2 percent of Internet users.

But in relative terms, infringement appeared more prevalent. 33 percent of all consumers of online film infringed at least once, while 26 percent of music consumers infringed.

Infringers are generally skewed toward being males 16-34, and the research also indicates that music, film and TV program infringers are also more likely to be unemployed.

Across all types of copyright crimes, the most commonly given excuses are that it's free, easy and quick.

The report also suggests that the highest-volume infringers were more likely to say they "already spend enough on content."

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