Call for study of threat from offline file-sharing

The Strategic Advisory Board for Intellectual Property (Sabip), a body set up to advise the UK government, has been looking into “offline” copyright infringement after its research last year into online piracy threw up questions about how consumers get films, music and games for free.

“There’s a whole big question here around what is happening offline digitally, the swapping of discs and data in that world. There’s a lot of it going on,” said Sabip board member Dame Lynne Brindley.

Brindley, chief executive of the British Library, said existing research did not give a clear picture of consumer behaviour. While there was some data on the proportion of people buying counterfeit CDs, DVDs and video games – estimated at between 7 per cent and 16 per cent of the population – Sabip was concerned that more needed to be known about other copyright breaches, such as hard-drive swapping and files being shared by wireless Bluetooth connections.

“The need for research into this area is hugely important so we can understand consumer behaviour, to understand how to enforce copyright and to understand the scale of the problems we are experiencing,” David Lammy, minister for intellectual property.

Sabip’s review of available national and international research concluded: “Policy-makers urgently need a better understanding of how consumers behave in both the online and offline digital environment.”

The review, conducted by BOP Consulting, also sought to show that consumers were “more interested in factors such as price, quality, and availability of material, rather than its legal status”.

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