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UK internet users can’t tell illegal from legal content

Half of all users are in the dark about the black market
Tue Nov 20 2012, 15:33
An Ofcom logo

AROUND HALF OF ALL UK internet users can't tell illegal content from legal material online.

The UK communications watchdog Ofcom explained that it discovered this disability in a study.

This confusion over what content is legal and what isn't might explain why the watchdog found that one in six people "believed they downloaded or accessed content illegally over a three-month period this year".

Ofcom's study is the start of a research expedition and it expects to build up a view of internet users and online copyright infringement.

For now Ofcom is finding confusion if not malicious 'piracy'. It said that 47 percent of users could not confidently say whether the content that they downloaded, streamed or shared was legal or otherwise.

One in six consumers aged 12 and over knew that they had accessed or downloaded content illegally over a three month period in Spring to early Summer.

Of these, eight percent accessed music, six percent films, and two percent games and software. The survey respondents gave different reasons for accessing content illegally, including that it is free, 54 percent, convenient, 48 percent, and quick, 44 percent.

They seem fairly flexible too, and just over two thirds said that they would go legal if "cheaper legal services were available", just under two thirds suggested that they could not find what they wanted legally, and a quarter called for clearer signs towards legal content.

One in six said that they would stop if they got just "one notifying letter from their ISP", and one fifth would quit if the letter threatened to cut off their internet access.

In terms of volume, software is the most downloaded type of content in its class and 47 percent of that consumed online is done illegally. Films are around a half, music a quarter and books 12 percent.

Men were the biggest illegal downloaders and accounted for 70 percent of the illegal activity. µ


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