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Last updated at 13:39 BST, Friday, 29 May 2009

Illegal downloads


29 May 2009

Around seven million people in the UK are involved in illegal downloads at huge cost to the economy - but changing attitudes is going to be tough. A report warns that criminalising people who download illegally may not be the right course.

Rory Cellan-Jones

7m people in the UK are involved in illegal downloads at huge cost to the economy

7m people in the UK download illegally at huge cost to the economy


Click to hear the report:


The report for a body advising the government on copyright looks at consumer attitudes to illegal downloading. Researchers found 1.3 million people online on just one file-sharing network on a weekday and worked out that over a year, they were getting free access to material worth 120 billion pounds.

The report says seven million people who download illegally in the UK can't all be students, older people must also be involved. But it says there's uncertainty about what is or is not illegal, and the fact that so much on the internet is free only adds to the confusion.

The report warns the government that criminalising downloaders could have huge economic costs and might not even work.

Rory Cellan-Jones, BBC


Click to hear the vocabulary:


here, organisation, institution
the legal right of either creative artists or publishers to control the use and reproduction of their original works
consumer attitudes to
here, how downloaders feel about
getting free access to
here, able to download without paying
must also be involved
here, look certain to be using illegal downloads as well
there's uncertainty about
nobody knows for sure
adds to the confusion
makes the situation even less clear
treating somebody as a criminal and/or making what they do punishable under the criminal law