Film file-sharing booming on internet: study

MUMBAI: As the film industry is trying to find the right business model for internet distribution for its first-run and catalogue content, a new research study shows that American consumers are increasingly viewing the movies they download or rip from DVDs on their PCs.


The research highlighted that 32 million Americans aged 12+ (18 per cent of the US online population) downloaded a full-length movie at some point in the past. What’s more, 20 million of these are regulars, having downloaded in the last month.


The study also showed that a majority of movie downloaders (80 per cent) only use peer-to-peer file-sharing sites. The population of regular file-sharing users doubled between 2005 and 2006.


A typical movie downloader from file-sharing sites is 29 years of age and has 16 titles stored on their PC — 63 per cent are male and 37 per cent are female.


The PC is now moving from a workhorse to a life-hub and video entertainment center as 56 per cent watched a DVD on a PC at some point and 29 per cent viewed a DVD on a PC last month. Also, 25 per cent watched a streaming TV show on their PCs.


Surprisingly, the research reveals that unauthorized downloads of copyrighted movies are not perceived as a serious offense. Only 40 per cent believe downloading “copyrighted movies off the internet” is a “very serious offense” as compared to the 78 per cent who believe “taking a DVD from a store without paying” is a very serious offense. As another point of comparison, Americans are much more likely to believe that “parking in a fire lane” is a very serious offense (59 per cent).


“There is a Robin Hood effect — most people perceive celebrities and studios to be rich already and as a result don’t think of movie downloading as a big deal. The current crop of ‘download to own’ movie services and the new ones coming into the market will need to offer greater flexibility of use, selection and low prices to convert the current users to their services — otherwise file-sharing will continue to thrive,” said the study director Kaan Yigit.


This study titled Digital Life America, is a syndicated consumer trend study. Between June and late September 2006, the research covered representative samples of over 2,600 Americans by telephone (1,016) and online (1,600).

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