A new study by Ofcom has found that in the UK, the worst internet pirates on the web are also the biggest spenders when it comes to legitimate content.

For as long as copyright infringement has been a thing, the entertainment industry has been lobbying for strict laws against piracy. On the surface, this makes sense: every time a movie is downloaded, it becomes a lost sale. However, some groups have always maintained that the issue is more complicated than this; that infringers may spend their money in a different way (such as by seeing a concert instead of buying a cd), or that the widespread availability of pirated content actually acts as free advertising, letting the content reach more people who might purchase it legitimately. New research commissioned by UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has added another interesting statistic to the debate: Those who pirate most actually spend more on content than those who don’t.

The research, which targeted internet users from 12 years old and up, found that the top 20% worst copyright infringers, responsible for 88% of pirated content on the web (Of which the top half are responsible for a staggering 79% of pirated content), spend in excess of 300% more on legal content than honest consumers who don’t infringe at all. The top 20% account for more than a tenth of all legal content consumed and spent an average of £168 over the six month period for which the study was carried out. In comparison, the lower 80% of internet pirates spent £105, but the really interesting statistic is that ‘honest’ consumers only spent a lowly £54.

 

…but are you sure you want it to be, Hollywood?

 

Also in the study was a survey on what factors would make an internet pirate stop downloading illegally. Interestingly, a threatening letter from their ISP threatening to turn off internet access trumped the fear of being sued as a cause for going legal. The top two factors however, were unsurprisingly the need for more availability of their desired content, as well as lower prices.