Digital piracy is viewed by many as simply a more convenient alternative to obtaining content from most legal online channels, according to a report by business law firm Olswang.
The company's most recent Convergence Consumer Survey, which looks into the growth and drivers of converged media, found that one of the biggest stumbling blocks to online content is that many view pirated content as less prohibitive, and faster and simpler to obtain, than the legal alternatives.
"Obviously I would prefer to use legal services but none of them can currently compete with the illegal ones," said one of the people surveyed. "The chance of getting caught is so minute as to be a non-concern."
Payment is another factor which continues to drive many people's choice of whether and what to consume online. Over 70 per cent of respondents would probably consume more online TV content if they could do so for free and without ads, but the findings indicate that many are already doing this by choosing illegal, free sources over legal, paid-for ones.
"I don't feel the need to pay for content, as everything I want to see or hear, from live footy to film, are all available to me at the click of a mouse, " said one participant.
However, even those who admitted to pirating content rejected outright the notion of directly or indirectly paying for the content, with many highlighting payment structures such as the bundling of content as part of a subscription to another service as a way of selling legal content conveniently.
"I would look at BitTorrent sites I always use. They always have the content I'm looking for. If it's BBC stuff I'll look on iPlayer first though," added one respondent, highlighting the general desire for legal content when it's suitably easy to access.
Some users also argued that another reason to turn to illegal downloads is that they can watch films straight after the cinema release.
Some of those turned off by pirated films cited the length of time it takes to download, quality concerns and the presumed difficulty of taking a downloaded movie to another device as reasons they avoid online movies, opting for the cinema or DVDs instead.
"I watch movies at the cinema. I have downloaded a couple over the internet but the content was not that good so don't think I will bother again," said another member of the focus group.
Music is also a strong focus for downloaders of all types, according to the survey. Around 14 per cent of respondents download music from legitimate sites at least once a week, and 10 per cent admit to downloading music from illegal sites at least once a week.
Across the survey base as a whole, 10 per cent said they download or stream music illegally, seven per cent illegally streaming/downloading movies and TV shows equally, and four per cent illegally streaming/downloading games.
Olswang concluded that organisations such as the British Phonographic Institute and others involved in the battle against piracy need to continue with their efforts to educate people as to the ill-effects of piracy, and to seek sanctions against those who have no qualms about piracy or fear of getting caught.
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