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Confusion in the UK over what is and isn't legal on the web

by Alistair Lowe on 22 November 2012, 09:52

Tags: Ofcom

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It's clear that, as pressure on the UK increases to implement new internet piracy laws and, with the Digital Economy Act coming into force next year, much will fall onto Ofcom to regulate matters and, no matter the group's decision, it's going to be a controversial one.

With this in mind, Ofcom has been busy issuing surveys and performing research, with some rather interesting information coming out of a large-scale consumer tracking study, funded by the UK Intellectual Property Office.

Of internet users aged over 12:


  • 16 per cent were estimated to have downloaded/streamed illegal content in the last three months.
    • 4 per cent consumed only illegal content.
    • 8 per cent downloaded music illegally, whilst 6 per cent films and only 2 per cent software.
  • 31 per cent of of those looking for/consuming a film in the last three months, 23 per cent music and 11 per cent e-books did so illegally.
  • When asked for their reasons, 54 per cent of infringers said that it was because it was free, 48 per cent convenient and 44 per cent quick. 26 per cent stated that it was so they could try before they buy.
  • 39 per cent stated that they would stop infringing if cheaper, legal services were available, 32 per cent if they were able to obtain all of their content legally and 26 per cent if it was clearer what is legal and what is not.
As for whether a letter threatening internet suspension would deter illegal downloading, only 22 per cent indicated it would put them off and, only 16 per cent if the letter was not worded directly at a specific user and, only 14 per cent if the risk was a restriction in internet speed.

The survey highlights a full range of arguments, with between 32 and 57 per cent of illegal downloaders standing in the morally murky swamp of 'try before you buy' and 'access to legal content unavailable', whilst the remaining bunch are primarily cost concious and/or unwilling to go through the trials and tribulations of purchasing legal content and the associated DRM.

Copyright Internet Pirates

What's perhaps most surprising is that, it was also revealed 44 per cent of all internet users were either 'not particularly confident' or 'not at all confident' in distinguishing what is and isn't legal content. We can't imagine Ofcom will leave this one alone, and change to educate and not alienate, we fully expect new regulatory practises in the future.

Ofcom will now use the results of this and other surveys as a benchmark, both in deciding upon the best approach to implement legislation but also to provide evidence to establish the effectiveness of new measures.

For more interesting facts and figures, take a peek at the full survey.


HEXUS Forums :: 39 Comments

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That's possibly the best stock photo I've ever seen.
No mention of the following:

“Bought the VHS, the DVD, the Extended cut and now refused to buy the Bluray and extended Bluray/3d because the license holders want to sell the same IP multiple times and refuse to give discounts for media trade-ups”

“Because streaming services are low quality compared to bluray”

“Because it's only worth x to me”

I still feel that when you have paid Ā£10-20 to watch a film in the cinema, you have paid for the IP. If I want the Bluray I should only have to pay manufacturing costs.

As usual the fat cats want it both ways, they want you to “license” the IP but they want you to pay for the same license multiple times. Until that changes I will continue to download movies.

I'm sure if they thought they could get away with it, they would change you extra each time you put the same disk in your player……..
That's possibly the best stock photo I've ever seen.

Is that you?
I'm sure if they thought they could get away with it, they would change you extra each time you put the same disk in your player……..

Microsoft have applied to patent a rechnology* which can charge you according to how many people are watching…

*It was a typo, but I think I invented a new word. Rechnology - technology to rip the @rse out of your customers.
to go through the trials and tribulations of purchasing illegal content and the associated DRM.

Presumably you mean purchasing legal content?