June 24, 2005

Software piracy viewed as normal: study

by brian_turner

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The results of a government-commissioned study to find if the anti-piracy message was having an impact on people’s attitudes, were previewed at a games conference in London.

The ‘Fake Nation’ report, which questioned 2,400 people, will be formally presented next week by Dr Jo Bryce of the University of Central Lancashire and Dr Jason Rutter of the University of Manchester. The researchers also held 12 focus groups.

The study found that people do not see downloading copyrighted material as theft and suggests that campaigns to stop people downloading pirated games or software from the internet are not working.

The games industry claims to lose over £2b annually from piracy.

Most anti-piracy campaigns in the UK focus on the damage done by software or film piracy, stressing that consumers are supporting organised crime when they buy pirated software.

The report showed that the main reason people downloaded games from the net was because they are free. This was a particular attraction for teenagers.

The anti-piracy campaign has focused on people selling counterfeit discs at markets or on street corners. The Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (Elspa) carried out 538 raids across the UK in 2004, seizing £4m worth of copied games and successfully prosecuting 67 software counterfeiters.

The study suggests that people tend not to buy counterfeit software from dealers on street corners, but from people they knew in places such as the office or at school.

Michael Rawlinson, deputy head of Elspa, was confident that young people’s behaviour could be changed by explaining the process of creation in bringing software products to market.

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