Just under one fifth of internet users have accessed content online illegally, with 18% of television programmes viewed online being in breach of copyright laws.
A report, conducted by Kantar Media on behalf of Ofcom and funded by the Intellectual Property Office, found that more than half of internet users – 58% – downloaded or streamed at least one item of content over the year from May 2012 to May 2013.
The report found that infringement was a “minor activity” during this period, with 17% of internet users consuming at least one item of “infringing content”. The report said this equated to around a third of all consumers of online content.
In terms of volume, 22% of all content consumed online during the year was infringing. Of the TV shows watched online, 18% were done so illegally.
People who accessed TV programmes illegally were divided into percentages according to the volume they accessed. Of the top 10%, three quarters were aged 16 to 34 and were predominantly male.
The top 10% were more likely to download a programme, rather than stream content, and, on average, each consumed around 100 digital TV programmes illegally.
The report found that a high proportion of the top 10% felt legal content is “too expensive” and were twice as likely to justify infringement because they had already paid to see content. The top 10% claimed to have paid for an average of four programmes over a three-month period. Overall, the report found that, during an average three-month period, infringers spent more than non-infringers on content – £26 compared with £16.
The top three reasons for infringing copyright were the fact the content was free, convenient to access and quick.
The top 10% said they would stop if content was cheaper.