Online Copyright Infringement: New Study

UK Communications Regulator Ofcom published a large-scale consumer study into the extent of online copyright infringement among internet users aged 12 and above. The research follows a recommendation in the 2011 Hargreaves Review of Intellectual Property and Growth that Ofcom should start gathering independent data and establishing trends in the area of online copyright before its formal reporting duties begin, under the Digital Economy Act 2010, when the Code comes into force. As a result, with this study Ofcom hopes to identify trends over time examining infringement of copyright on music, films, TV programmes, software, books and video games.

According to the findings of the study, 16% of internet users aged 12 and above downloaded or accessed online content illegally during the three month period from May to July 2012. In addition, it was revealed that 47% of users cannot confidently identify whether the online content they download, stream or share is legal or not! Another interesting part of the study is that infringers admitted that they would be encouraged to stop doing so if cheaper legal services were available (39%), everything they wanted was available from a legal source (32%) or it was more clear what content was legal (26%). One in six even said that they would stop if they received one notifying letter from their Internet Service Provider (ISP).

ICOMP member CEPIC, which represents approximately 1,000 picture agencies and photo libraries in 20 countries across Europe, has welcomed this new study. According to CEPIC’s Executive Director Sylvie Fodor, the study confirms that consumers are usually not pirates and that it is important to make a clear distinction between these two ‘user groups’. Technology has allowed easy download of all type of content and now it is necessary for groups representing rights holders to develop technology allowing easy access to legal content. This is for example the goal set by the Linked Content Coalition, supported by CEPIC and other media. The answer to the machine is the machine.

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