Almost half of UK internet users not sure if they’ve accessed illegal content

20 Nov 2012

Nearly half of all internet users in the UK (47pc) are unsure whether the content they are accessing online is illegal, a new survey by telecoms watchdog Ofcom reveals. The study into copyright infringement by internet users over 12 reveals 54pc of internet users accessed illegal content because they said it was free.

The study of copyright infringement focused on copyright infringement of music, films, TV programmes, software, books and video games.

It found that 47pc cannot confidently identify whether the online content that they download, stream or share is legal or not.

The study found that 16c of internet users downloaded or accessed illegal content between May and July this year.

Some 8pc of internet users admit to having consumed music illegally, but just 2pc for games and software in those months.

Common reasons sited were: because it was free (54pc), convenient (48pc) and quick (44pc). Some 26pc said it allowed them to try things out before they decided to buy.

Infringers said they would be encouraged to stop doing so if they received a single notification from their ISP.

Those who admitted consuming a mix of legal and illegal content, such as music and films, reported spending more on legal content in the survey period.

In June, Ofcom published a draft code requiring large ISPs to inform customers of allegations that their internet connection has been used to infringe copyright and point them instead in the direction of licensed content on the internet.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years