81.8% students would stop illegal file-sharing post ISP warning: survey


MUMBAI: On World Intellectual Property Day, the International Federation Against Copyright Theft – Greater China (IFACT-GC) released the results of a survey which confirms a strong preference for a graduated response program as an effective means to stop illegal file-sharing in Hong Kong.


A graduated response program, which has already been adopted in several jurisdictions, brings internet service providers (ISPs) and copyright holders together to tackle rampant filesharing. Under such a program ISPs will send educational notices to subscribers engaging in illegal sharing informing them of the risk associated with such conduct, including the possible termination of their internet access.


Survey participants considered such a program as an effective means to deter online infringement, with 81.8% respondents saying they would likely stop or may stop after the implementation of such a program.


"Distributing content without the consent of the creators is illegal and that’s akin to theft. It is heartening to note that most people would stop if warned once – they know that what they are doing is wrong. We have seen the same results in other countries. For example in New Zealand, more than 70% of survey respondents stated they would stop file-sharing if warned by their ISP. On World Intellectual Property Day, this survey reminds us all yet again of the importance of protecting content on behalf of its creators," said Motion Picture Association president and managing director Asia-Pacific Mike Ellis.


The study, conducted by the Hong Kong Transition Project of the Hong Kong Baptist University between October 17 and 19, 2009, was designed to gauge public opinion about the effectiveness of a graduated response program in addressing illegal downloading. One thousand respondents were successfully surveyed.


According to the survey, 57.1% were supportive of the implementation of a graduated response program in Hong Kong. "It is encouraging to learn that the general public is receptive to the implementation of a graduated response system. The findings highlight the fact that the vast majority of Hong Kong people acknowledge the need to step up efforts to combat illegal filesharing," added IFACT-GC executive director and general manager Sam Ho.


"Graduated response is an effective means to address the issue of online piracy and creates a win-win situation for all parties concerned," he said.


The survey also underlined the seriousness of illegal file sharing in Hong Kong as 60% of the respondents admitted they had shared unauthorized content, such as movies, TV programs, music, games and software, on the internet.


Responding to the findings of the survey, veterans of the movie and music industries – Motion Picture Industry Association Limited CEO Brian Chung and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) CEO Ricky Fung called on the government to take bolder actions to safeguard the industries.


"Our box office revenue has been seriously affected by illegal filesharing activities over the past few years. These unauthorized activities are disincentives to investment in the industry and will also lead to a drain of local creative talents," said Chung.


"Online copyright protection is fundamental to fostering a creative economy, but Hong Kong is lagging far behind other advanced jurisdictions in this area of work. We believe that a graduated response program can serve the best interests of users, online service providers and copyright owners. The recent implementation of such programs in France and UK and the findings in this survey support the need for our government to rethink its position and take immediate steps to put graduated response in place in order to make Hong Kong the key regional center for the creative industry," said Fung.