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72% of web users won’t be budged by ISP’s anti-piracy emails

By | Published on Thursday 9 March 2017


After UK internet service providers recently started sending out educational emails to pesky bedroom copyright nabbers, net provider comparison website Broadband Genie surveyed just over 2000 consumers to see whether a stern letter would make them stop accessing illegal sources of content. And apparently 72% of respondents said that they wouldn’t.

As much previously reported, the educational emails stem from the obligation placed on ISPs in the 2010 Digital Economy Act to pass on warning letters from rights owners to customers suspecting of accessing unlicensed content, or sharing content without permission. Although the proposals that led to that legislation began with the three-strikes anti-piracy system – whereby there is some sanction placed on customers who ignore their warning letters – the resulting scheme is much less draconian.

The entertainment industry hopes that some web users can be shifted onto licensed music and movie platforms simply by being made aware that they are currently infringing copyright in the way they are accessing content online. But the Broadband Genie survey reckons the majority are not going to be educated over to Netflix and Spotify.

Asked what would make them switch to legit services, 22% said the threat of court action, which could in theory be the next step of this process; and the same number identified the threat of losing their internet connection, which was the ultimate sanction originally proposed when the three-strikes system was first being promoted by rights owners.

19% said that cheaper legal alternatives might persuade them to go legit, while 29% reckoned nothing would stop them from accessing and sharing unlicensed content. Which can’t be right. I mean, surely a gun to the head would shift some of those people?

Commenting on his survey, Broadband Genie’s Head Of Strategy Rob Hilborn said: “The ISP warning letters may stop a few who are unaware they’re downloading and sharing illegally, but it’s ultimately going to have little impact on those knowingly participating in this activity. The current approach is the bare minimum ISPs have to do to appease the government and avoid legislation forcing them to take tougher measures”.

Hilborn noted that the “age old excuse” used by some respondents – that legit options were just too expensive – seems weak in the age of Netflix and Spotify, which are pretty reasonable given what they offer. Though the fact that this excuse still comes up so often possibly backs up the argument that budget streaming services, offering less content or functionality, are required to attract the more mainstream consumer.

Although Hilborn was more sympathetic to those who blame staggered releases around the world – ie when new content is available in some markets before others – for why they tap illegal content platforms. Of course it’s mainly the TV and movie sectors who continue to do that, though music possibly also loses out, because once a web user is using an illegal service to access the American TV show they can’t get legitimately in their home country, they may be more likely to use those channels for music content too.