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Debate on illegal downloading set to run and run

Wednesday, July 13th 2011 by Paul France
No end in sight for illegal downloading debate
Figures have shown a 30 per cent increase in illegal movie downloads since 2006.

The debate over how to curb online piracy has been raging for years now, but figures published last week appear to suggest rights holders are no closer to resolving the issue.

According to Envisional, the number of films downloaded illegally in the UK has risen by 30 per cent since 2006, with the five movies grossing the highest amounts at the box office being acquired 1.4 million times via this method in 2010.

However, if you take a closer look at the study, the trend of increasing piracy doesn't ring true in every industry. Films, TV shows, computer games and software have all been accessed more and more by illegal downloaders, but music - the traditional domain for filesharing - is actually being targeted less.

Since 2008, the number of music albums attained by UK broadband users from BitTorrent clients has been on the slide, leading some industry experts to insist the practice is dying out.

Paul McGuinness, the manager of U2, wrote in the Daily Telegraph last week that the age of illegal free downloading is coming to an end, thanks in part to a system of "copyright alerts" that will be introduced by internet service providers (ISPs) in the US.

But why should music be less appealing to filesharers while movies and other content are being downloaded in increasingly large volumes?

To us, the answer seems simple: the introduction of iTunes and other similar websites has meant it is now simple and inexpensive to buy your favourite songs legitimately, while also having the notable advantages of being legal and safe.

In contrast, the harsh economic climate is persuading more and more people to cut down on costly trips to the cinema or DVD rentals, resulting in them heading online to download and watch the latest releases from the comfort of their own homes.

High-profile legal proceedings against BT, brought about by a group of Hollywood film studios, are seeking to force the ISP to block access to filesharing website Newzbin.

However, even if the case proves successful, we're not convinced it will mark the end for the illegal downloading of movies. 

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