Seventy four per cent of all pirated downloads were committed by just two per cent of internet users according to a Kantar study for Ofcom.
Kantar were commissioned by Ofcom to conduct a pilot survey, comparing online, telephone and face-to-face interviewing methods, with the objective of establishing the most effective survey methodology to monitor illegal file-sharing among consumers.
It emerged that almost a quarter (22 per cent) of all UK downloads are in breach of copyright and last year there were 1.5 billion illegal downloads with films comprising a third of all pirated content. Additionally, Fifty eight per cent of all internet users have downloaded or streamed at least one illegal item in the last year.
Those who download pirated goods were more likely to purchase legal downloads as over a three month period pirates spent £26 on goods compared to £16 from those who did not infringe copyright.
It was revealed that the most common excuse for piracy was that internet users believed they had already spent enough money on content, and that legal downloads were too expensive. Conversely, only one in five pirates said they would cease downloading illegal content if they received a letter from their ISP threatening legal action.
Awareness of paid for TV streaming services such as Netflix, Google Play and Tesco's blinkbox ‘rose significantly’ between March and May reinforcing the belief that if such services were made cheaper and more widely available pirates would start paying for content.
On illegal downloads, the Kantar report, said: “The true impact on the core media industries is one that has been highly disputed.
“Whilst the majority of studies appear unanimous in the opinion that such activity is holistically damaging, there is also evidence that suggests file-sharing is an easy scapegoat for declines in sales, and in some respects can also be considered a promotional catalyst.”
In the last year, pirated music tracks in the UK decreased by a third to 199 million which is good news for the music industry who saw revenue increase by 0.3 per cent.