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As the government cracks down on online copyright infringement, Brits boost legal downloading

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The UK government has been focused on stopping piracy by, for example, forcing Internet service providers to block websites such as The Pirate Bay. It has also started making prison sentences harsher for distributors of torrents, with jail time climbing as high as ten years.

The government is carrying out several other steps to tackle illegal streaming and downloading, including providing funding towards a campaign to educate consumers on how they can download and stream legally, as well as for a specialist police unit.

It is also working with the European Commission to toughen criminal penalties for large scale commercial copyright infringement.

As part of the government’s plan to create a clearer picture of piracy trends, the IPO looked into what type of content had recently been accessed by Brits. It found that while 15m UK internet users had accessed a TV programme online, 21 per cent did so illegally. The most common reasons given for illegal downloading were because it was free (49 per cent) and convenient (43 per cent).

When it came to the most favourable TV platforms, BBC iPlayer, YouTube and ITV Player topped the list. iPlayer accounted for 62 per cent of all such activity.

Some 15.6m users had accessed music online, with 12m having streamed music and 10.5m downloading music. The IPO claimed that 16-24-year-olds were the most active in this area.

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YouTube, Amazon and Spotify were the top platforms used to access content, with 54 per cent of all music streaming and downloads being done via YouTube.

At the same time, streamed and downloaded content hasn’t been the preserve of TV shows and music. The IPO found that 62 per cent of British internet users had accessed films, computer software, video games and e-books as well. This figure, the IPO stressed, had increased from 56 per cent in 2013.

However, while there had been a six per cent increase in the consumption of illegal content, there had also been a rise of the same amount for legal content.

Intellectual property minister Lucy Neville-Rolfe said: “It’s great news that a huge proportion of UK consumers are going online to enjoy music, TV shows, video games and e-books legally. They are supporting our creative industries to grow and showing the benefits of making legal content widely available.”

The survey, which was conducted between March and May 2015, was published in parallel with research in Australia. It found that while British and Australian users consumed online media at similar rates, illegal downloading for UK consumers was half the rate of their Australian counterparts.

Image: Shutterstock

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