June 19, 2009

Eight Percent Of Consumers Engage In Illegal Video Downloads

A new survey published Friday shows that eight percent of consumers in the U.S., Britain, Germany and France reported having illegally downloaded video from the Internet.

The results of the online survey of more than 2,500 people, conducted by Futuresource Consulting, demonstrate the size of the online piracy battle.

Two-thirds of those surveyed in Britain said they often or sometimes watched movies, TV and videos on their computer, with 15 percent of those saying they did so illegally.

U.S. survey participants were not far behind.

"This widespread availability of illicit content presents a major obstacle to the development of online content services, and continues to heavily impact upon revenues, despite governments' and industry authorities' renewed attempts to tighten up the system," Reuters quoted the report as saying.

Given the broadly held perception that Web content is free, media firms are struggling to entice consumers to pay for online videos, music or news.   Attempts to support free content through advertising revenue have largely fallen short.

So far, the music industry has suffered the worst effects of online piracy, as it struggles to offset declines in CD sales.  Governments are also working to combat online piracy.  Indeed, a woman was fined almost $2 million in the U.S. this week for illegal music sharing.

Last month, France's lower house of parliament passed a bill allowing authorities to track illegal Internet downloading and disconnect repeat offenders.

In the U.K., the government proposed a variety of initiatives this week to punish illegal downloaders, including slowing down Internet connections and ultimately blocking access altogether.

However, such measures are deemed highly controversial as a growing number of people begin to consider Internet access as a fundamental human right.

According to the survey, 90 percent of those who viewed video content online never paid to watch news or television programs, while slightly more than half had never paid to watch new movies.

However, most reported a willingness to do so in the future.

Less than 1 percent of survey respondents said an advertisement placed before, during or after an old movie or TV show ruined their online viewing of the show.  Thirty percent said it had no impact at all, while nearly half reported being slightly put off by the experience.


On the Net: