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UK consumers give boost to legal downloading

A survey from the UK’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has revealed that 62 per cent of Internet users in the UK have downloaded or streamed music, TV shows, films, computer software, video games or e-books. This is up from 56 per cent in 2013. The survey showed that there was a 10 per cent increase in UK consumers accessing content through legal services. One in five consumers still access some content illegally.

The survey was published in parallel with research in Australia and shows that while British and Australian users consumed online media at similar rates, illegal downloading for UK consumers was half the rate of their Australian counterparts.

Key findings from the UK survey show that:


  • 15.6 million UK Internet users accessed music online. 12 million users streamed music and 10.5 million users downloaded music. 16-24 year-olds were the most active in music downloads

  • YouTube, Amazon and Spotify were the top platforms used for downloading and streaming with 54 per cent of all music streaming and downloads were accessed via YouTube

  • 26 per cent of users have accessed content illegally


  • 10 million UK Internet users have accessed films online

  • Netflix, Amazon and YouTube were the top platforms for film downloads and streaming with Netflix responsible for 44 per cent of all activity

  • 25 per cent of users accessed some content illegally


  • 15 million UK Internet users have accessed a TV programme online

  • BBC iPlayer, You Tube and ITV Player were the top platforms for accessing TV programmes online with BBC iPlayer responsible for 62 per cent of activity

  • 21 per cent of users accessed some content illegally

The findings also show that:

  • 5.6 million of UK Internet users accessed or downloaded e-books, 5.2 million users accessed or downloaded video games and 5.5 million accessed or downloaded computer software

  • Average quarterly spend on downloading and streaming content ranged from £6.68 (€9.54) for TV programmes to £20.28 for music. The most common reasons given for infringing were because it’s free (49 per cent) and convenient (43 per cent)

  • Respondents said they would be encouraged to stop infringing if there were cheaper legal services (25 per cent) and if everything was available legally (21 per cent)

Intellectual Property Minister Baroness Neville Rolfe said it was “great news” that a huge proportion of UK consumers were going online to enjoy Music, TV Shows, Video Games and e-books legally, supporting the UK’s creative industries to grow and showing the benefits of making legal content widely available. “By building a clear picture of online streaming and downloading trends we can work with industry and international partners to tackle the problems of Internet piracy and increase public awareness of the ways people can download and stream legally,” she added.

The UK Government is taking action to tackle online copyright infringement and has:

  • provided £3.1m of funding for Creative Content UK’s education campaign to educate consumers on how they can download and stream legally

  • through the IPO, provided £5.56 million of funding up to 2017 for Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit to tackle copyright infringement

  • consulting on proposals to toughen criminal penalties for large scale commercial copyright infringement

  • working with the European Commission and industry to tackle piracy by finding ways to help make more content available to purchase across borders, while protecting and rewarding creativity

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