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Confused Internet Users unwittingly commit Online Piracy

Results of a recent independent survey - commissioned by law firm Wiggin - questioning 2,500 participants about up/ downloading commercially produced media (music, videos, etc) on the Internet revealed that many Internet users are well and truly confused as to what actually constitutes an illegal download - and are subsequently turning into online video, music and so on pirates without realising they are breaking the law.

Almost half - 44 per cent, to be precise - of the individuals questioned did, for example, believe that it was perfectly legal to upload media that has been commercially produced onto file-sharing sites, although some of them admitted to being unsure about the legality of such uploads.

Approximately 35 per cent of participants in the survey firmly believed copying TV shows or films as files from third parties - friends, relatives or other acquaintances - was legal. Again, some of these people admitted not really knowing for sure whether it was legal or not.

Strangely enough, although almost two thirds of the people questioned admitted regularly searching for unauthorised content via Google and other search engines - and more than a quarter doing so on a daily basis - the vast majority of these respondents agreed on the importance of copyright.

A total of 68 per cent do, as a matter of fact, believe that copyright infringements should be prevented and that it is necessary to protect individuals/ companies within the creative industry against piracy. This figure is, by the way, up from a similar survey conducted in 2010, when only 55 per cent felt protecting creative industries against piracy was necessary.

It seems obvious that something has to be done to make respective laws clearer. Right now, nobody really knows where simple, legal sharing ends and piracy begins. Is sharing a track of music online really that different to listening to it at home among a group of friends? Surely, introducing a friend to a piece of music they have not heard before - and subsequently have not purchased a 'legal' copy of - via the Internet is no different to letting them hear it at home?!

While it is clear that artists have to make a living, it is hard to believe that someone sharing/ downloading a track or a video is going to make a huge difference to their earnings as a whole - especially when considering that these downloads are often followed by 'legal' copies being purchased anyhow.

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