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Internet Piracy – 6.52 Million UK People Downloaded Illegal Content

Wednesday, July 4th, 2018 (4:26 pm) - Score 10,520

The Government’s Intellectual Property Office has today published its 8th study into the extent of online copyright infringement by broadband ISP and mobile users, which estimates that 15% of UK Internet users aged 12+ (6.525 million people) had downloaded at least one item of “illegal” online content (unchanged from 2017).

The new research, which is based on responses from 5,034 people via various different forms of communication (online, face-to-face etc.), noted that the levels of infringement varied significantly by content type. The highest levels of infringement for all internet users was recorded for TV shows (23%), sports content (21%) and software (20%). Software infringement has declined sharply from 26% last year but most have barely changed.

Looking at infringers of any of the six key content types, those who downloaded or streamed/accessed content “illegally” were skewed towards people aged under 35 (making up 66% of all infringers). It was also slightly skewed towards men (58%). As usual the top reasons for infringing remained largely similar to those given in 2017, with 44% of respondents simply saying because “it is free.”

2018 uk internet piracy reasons

The market’s largest broadband ISPs are already trying to get a grip on the problem of internet piracy by blocking websites involved in copyright infringement (i.e. after a court order). On top of that they’ve also been sending warning emails to those suspected by copyright holders of engaging in such activity (these are just “educational” alerts and don’t contain any threats). However it doesn’t look as if the latter is likely to have a big impact.

In terms of what would deter pirates from infringing, the study noted that cost (“if legal services were cheaper” 22%) and a lack of clarity (“if it was clearer what is legal and what isn’t” 21%) were top of the list.
Meanwhile legal (18%) and timely (16%) availability of content also remain important considerations for discouraging infringers.

However 1 in 10 claim to be “hardcore” infringers who say there is nothing that would make them stop.


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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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13 Responses
  1. hmm says:

    Fail Shock Horror

  2. un4h731x0rp3r0m says:

    “which estimates that 15% of UK Internet users aged 12+ (6.525 million people)….
    “The new research, which is based on responses from 5,034 people……”

    Ah ha so its a case of take a small sample of about 5000, then assume because it is young people around a third will automatically be liars, so whack that on top of the 5000, multiply it by a 1000 as that is a nice round simple number for the simple brains that write reports like this to cope with to reach your final made up quantum string theory BS guesstimating 6.5 Million.

    Government maths at its finest.

    1. Dennis Smith says:

      Bayesian math. You don’t get more accurate results from larger pools of people or statistics. A larger variety of sources might, but more people will not increase accuracy.

    2. Carl T says:

      Basic statistics to be honest. With a group that size as long as they were reasonably selected or appropriately adjusted for the margin of error in the extrapolation will be small.

    3. Clifford says:

      Both of those responses of course would require that they also know at what point an increased sample size brings a smaller margin of error.

      That is doubtful considering their very first figure involved in the calculation is dubious, that being…
      “15% of UK Internet users aged 12+ (6.525 million people)”
      That statement means there are well over 39 Million Internet users TOTAL of age 12+ in the UK.

      At least i hope that is what they are saying. That may well be right or wrong, but its dubious in the sense of this survey and its value as a data point.

      This in turn means their sample size of 5000 people for the conducted activity (Internet use of the TOTAL amount of 12+ year olds) is less than 0.0001%

      Somehow i highly doubt a higher sample size than 0.0001% would not bring greater accuracy.

      Feel free to google sample size calculator to find out what actual sample size they would had needed to lets say (being generous) be at the least 90% confident.

      Even the most generous Bayesian maths calculation i could find will also disagree the sample is not enough for a decent confidence of accuracy.

    4. CarlT says:

      I’d check the maths there, Clifford.

      If their sample size of 5000 is less than 0.0001% of the cohort the cohort’s size must be >5 billion.

    5. Clifford says:

      You are quite correct i have 2 extra zeros after the decimal. I should not of even attempted the initial manual calculation at 3.30 in the morning after dealing with figures (timesheets) all night.

      5000 odd out of the claimed over 39,000,000 TOTAL over 12 internet users in this country is a survey sample size nearer to 0.013%, still nowhere near enough to give any accurate result and certainly not enough to apply Bayesian principles.

  3. Mike says:

    If you can give directly to content creators then do so but otherwise the middle-men/parasites need to be starved out of existence for multiple reasons.

  4. dragoneast says:

    IMHO the content providers should whinge less and concentrate on creating output that is worth paying for. There are too many lazy people who think they have a meal ticket for life.

    The answer for consumers is simple. The stuff isn’t worth it. When sites are making money from gambling and advertising and expect customers to pay exorbitantly for it too; pure greed. But of course they have to pay all their unproductive hangers-on, somehow, whilst they massage their egos. There are genuinely free sites (not in breach of copyright) that are way better. Some of us should remember that just because we do, everybody else doesn’t have money to burn. Of course the lackeys will tell us we have a duty to pay the rich. More fools if we believe them!

    We should remember that because we have money to burn, and like to boast about it; not everybody else does; in fact most people don’t. But of course none of us are interested in anybody else, just in showing off. So let’s quibble about the statistical methodology instead, “let them east cake” as a predecessor of the entitled rich once said before getting their just deserts!

    1. dragoneast says:

      or even “eat cake” as the entitled MS spell-checker didn’t realise either!

  5. simon says:

    My reason does not even fit into the above.

    The content I want – even UK stuff is NOT on Netflix,Sky OR AMazon – so where else do I get it from!?

    Yes – USENET

    Not that I don’t and won’t pay for it – it’s just that you won’t provide it.


    Sky are on Season 3 Episode 9 of Supergirl – The internet is on Season 5 already.

    1. Sam says:

      This was indeed covered. If the content I wanted is available as soon as it was released elsewhere. This means new movies and TV episodes as soon as they were released elsewhere. US TV shows are the worst. Their legal UK release time is quite late and people would not wait for legal availability, after watching the previous season.

    2. bubblegun says:

      Nope you’re wrong about Supergirl anyway.

      The Internet might be giving you season 5 but they would be misnamed files as there’s only been 3 seasons of Supergirl so far.

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