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How should we tackle illegal downloading?

The British economy is losing billions of pounds through illegal downloads, according to research. How should we tackle illegal file-sharing?

Researchers from the Strategic Advisory Board for Intellectual Property (SABIP) found that 1.3m people used one file-sharing network on one weekday, from that they estimated that over one year these downloaders would have free access to material worth £12bn.

Members of the creative industries and trades unions have called on ministers to force internet service providers to cut off persistent illegal file-sharers.

However internet service providers say it is not their job to police the web.

What is the best way to tackle illegal file-sharing? Is it possible to change attitudes towards illegal downloading? Do internet service providers have a role to play? Have you downloaded files from the internet?

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Published: Friday, 29 May, 2009, 08:33 GMT 09:33 UK

All comments as they come in

Added: Sunday, 31 May, 2009, 08:10 GMT 09:10 UK

When its priced at £1.00 for a low quality 128kps track then i think it is expensive considering there is nothing to manufactor, as it is a one off cost.

Also why are you able to buy the same song in a different country for half the price, and even when it comes from the same servers.

It cost the same price to buy a cd as it does to download it, so i would rather have a hard copy in my hand and convert it to mp3 without DRM.

Mr Wideboy

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Added: Sunday, 31 May, 2009, 08:09 GMT 09:09 UK

i download films and music. i do it for my own needs rather than to sell and make a profit. mps should get their own house in order before challenging illegal downloading when they have been downloading money from the taxpayer for donkeys years. the music industry is awash with money.......they even supply artists with drugs who take them. they should pay the artists and actors a set figure and if illegal file sharing is to be stamped down the authorities should go after the file sharing network

shaun, wigan

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Added: Sunday, 31 May, 2009, 08:08 GMT 09:08 UK

This "research" is so full of holes that it is pathetically laughable. A reputable news organisation like the BBC should have been able to conclude how utterly unewsworthy a story with unverifiable admittedly fabricated imaginary figures is. This is a sad day for the BBC.
Don't forget
Not every download is a lost sale (most aren't)
Downloading is likely to increase appetites for media.
Money not sent to hollywood for their latest poor movie will be spent and benefit locally, it is not 'lost'

Wast3d

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Added: Sunday, 31 May, 2009, 08:08 GMT 09:08 UK

Does this mean we would have to ban anything that could be recorded from the various forms of media and should be able to only attend live performances that are behind closed doors, methinks there is a little too much corporate greed and and taxman involved here

[dunghill], Cheltenham, United Kingdom

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Added: Sunday, 31 May, 2009, 08:04 GMT 09:04 UK

Illegal copying of music has always gone on. Copying CD's and tapes, recording off the radio, etc. File sharing is just the latest version. Technology makes music rights owners able to do something they couldn't do before: control us. What next? Charging royalties for playing CDs to friends? Sure, music is a business: salaries must be paid & profit made. But music is also for all. Industry needs to strike the right balance, artists & shareholders need to stop seeing music just as $ signs.

Peter Smith, Bristol

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Added: Sunday, 31 May, 2009, 07:29 GMT 08:29 UK

If I went to the library, painstakingly copied the latest bestseller by hand onto paper, left (after a few days) with my copy and read it later would I be guilty of theft? No, as no-one is deprived of the original article.

Would I be guilty of Copyright Infringement? Probably.

The whole Copyright issue will have to be revised.

Steve, Gosforth

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Added: Sunday, 31 May, 2009, 07:26 GMT 08:26 UK

If you can write a cd for pennies, when buying in very small quantities, how can these companies justify as an example, a cd for £12.

[portlandbill], lancaster, United Kingdom

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Added: Sunday, 31 May, 2009, 07:16 GMT 08:16 UK

Make the cost of purchase a lot cheaper instead of always ripping the public off.

andrew, sheffield

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Added: Sunday, 31 May, 2009, 07:13 GMT 08:13 UK

I tend to buy most of my CDs second-hand, as the prices new are just too high.
I don't need to get an album when it first comes out; I'm happy to wait till it turns up cheaper.

Paul, Berkshire

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Added: Sunday, 31 May, 2009, 07:12 GMT 08:12 UK

What a load of old tosh.
"illegal" file sharing does not cost the economy a bean, if people could not download for free they just would not buy.
Intellectual property rights are ridiculous, giving ownership after death, a joke at the consumers expense.
Why should someone earning £10,000 a year in UK or £1,000 a year in a poor country feel the need to contribute to a multi-millionaires income.
If you do not want people to know how clever you are do not publish your "property".

Keith, Welshpool

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Added: Sunday, 31 May, 2009, 05:03 GMT 06:03 UK

Pay artists a decent salary, and take emphasis off of "number of units sold". Maybe use "number of units pilfered + number of units sold" as a basis for salary. No one needs gazillions of pounds or dollars.

Gary Roberts

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Added: Sunday, 31 May, 2009, 05:01 GMT 06:01 UK

"The whole concept of 'intellectual property' is flawed in my opinion...Instead charge for the real work being done - creating it" Craig, Hertfordshire

We do. Only to have our work presented back to us by others trying to sell it to us as their own! Which is extremely offensive. Because not only is it our intellectual property, it's our source of livelihood. Why should anyone benefit from the fruits of our labour for free? Are they willing to give me the car they own as a result of theirs?

Lee, canada

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Added: Sunday, 31 May, 2009, 04:50 GMT 05:50 UK

I have found sick and immoral to see all those pop stars or actors spending ridiculous money on their high style living. Posh cars and designer clothes are one of them. How will you justify this? It seems they get enough money from music companies anyway; all this is driven by greed and greed only.

Pit, Aberdeen

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Added: Sunday, 31 May, 2009, 04:43 GMT 05:43 UK

It will be cat-and-mouse in perpetuity. The only way to be sure no one is going to take something (from your auto, your motorcycle, your back pocket, the web) is to not put something there to begin with. Isn't that just kind of basic common sense?

Gary Roberts

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Added: Sunday, 31 May, 2009, 04:22 GMT 05:22 UK

Well, a good way to start would be to make legal music downloads actually attractive. Most music download services are quite expensive. The cheaper you make it, the more converts you'll get.

The other issue is DRM. If the file you download is crippled by anti-piracy measures, as so many legal download services are, nobody's going to want to buy it. If I can't keep it on my computer, then move it to my ipod when I want to, or if I can't access it on more than three devices, I don't want it.

david, cambridge

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