A new Ofcom study suggests that a quarter of all digital music consumed online in Britain is illegally downloaded or streamed.
The research also found that one in six internet users access music, films and ebooks illegally, but nearly half (47%) are unsure whether the content they are accessing online is legal.
Online copyright infringement accounted for a third of all film, almost a fifth of video games, nearly an eighth of ebooks and a fifth of TV shows accessed online during a three-month period analysed by the regulator.
The research found 16% of internet users aged 12 and above downloaded or accessed content illegally at least once between May and July, with a quarter of those breaking the law exclusively.
Ofcom's findings included:
- One in six (16%) internet users aged 12+ downloaded or accessed online content illegally during the three month period from May to July 2012;
- Reported levels of infringement varied considerably by content type: 8% of internet users consumed some music illegally in the three months, but just 2% did so for games and software;
- The most common reasons cited for accessing content illegally were because it is free (54%), convenient (48%) and quick (44%). Around a quarter (26%) of infringers said it allows them to try before they buy;
- Infringers said 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 said they would stop if they received one notifying letter from their ISP;
- Those who consumed a mixture of legal and illegal online content in the form of music, films and TV programmes reported spending more on legal content in these categories over the three-month period than those who consumed entirely legal or illegal content.
The full report, the OCI Tracker Benchmark Study, is available here. It was funded by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), and carried out by Kantar Media on behalf of Ofcom.