UK hosts seven million illegal downloaders


About seven million people in the UK are guilty of illegal downloading, according to a Government report released today.

It claimed that the UK economy is losing billions each year as a result.

The research was commissioned by the Strategic Advisory Board for Intellectual Property and released in the lead up to the Digital Britain report.

It criticised policy makers for not understanding public attitudes towards downloading.

The report listed consumer confusion, denial of responsibility and denial of injury as some reasons justifying downloads. "None of these justifications explained the sheer volume of unauthorised materials that are being shared, leading us to consider the idea that unauthorised downloading has become a simple reflex for some digital consumers."

Because of the scale, prosecutions aren't likely. "If all who undertake unauthorised downloading, uploading and sharing were prosecuted, up to seven million Britons would have a criminal record," the report noted.

On the flipside, if you make everything free then it will damage a huge number of industries such as film, music and gaming, it warned.

"We have discovered large and worrying gaps in the knowledge base and we need to remedy this urgently if policies and procedures are to be informed by the evidence. And if they are not there is a risk of industry and government decoupling from the digital consumer."

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott is a former freelance journalist and currently political reporter for Sky News. She has a varied writing history, having started her career at Dennis Publishing, working in various roles across its business technology titles, including ITPro. Jennifer has specialised in a number of areas over the years and has produced a wealth of content for ITPro, focusing largely on data storage, networking, cloud computing, and telecommunications.

Most recently Jennifer has turned her skills to the political sphere and broadcast journalism, where she has worked for the BBC as a political reporter, before moving to Sky News.