Nearly 2 in 5 Singaporeans engage in online piracy: study

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Almost two in five Singaporeans admit to engaging in online piracy, says a new consumer research study.

Thirty-nine per cent of people here said that they currently illegally stream or download movies, TV shows or live sports broadcasts, said research firm Sycamore, which conducted the study.

Its results were released on Tuesday (12 September) at an event sponsored by the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (Casbaa).

Sycamore’s study included a survey of 1,000 respondents in Singapore, weighted to be representative of the population, along with a further 300 users of illicit streaming devices, so as to better understand their behaviour.

Changing methods

The use of illegal streaming devices – TV boxes in particular – is “changing the face of piracy in Singapore”, with 14 per cent of those polled saying that they currently use such devices, the study noted.

“The implications of these results are serious. Admitted usage of TV boxes, which provide illegal access to TV series, movies and live sports events is much greater in Singapore than in other developed markets such as the US and the UK,” said Casbaa’s chief policy officer John Medeiros.

The study observed that while 68 per cent of those polled recognised that online piracy is “stealing or theft”, 63 per cent of respondents said that their decision to pirate was “motivated by the desire for free content”.

Almost a third of respondents also agreed that the blocking of sites which profit from pirated content would be the most effective method of reducing online piracy.

“The notion that piracy is something that everybody does nowadays turns it into a socially acceptable behaviour,” said Sycamore research director Anna Meadows.

“Interestingly, even among active pirates, almost a third agree that authorities should be able to take more action to deter piracy.”

Malware threat taken too lightly

Almost three-quarters (74 per cent) of active pirates surveyed recognised that they were more exposed to getting viruses, spyware and other malware, the study found.

Among those who said they had stopped pirating content, 40 per cent cited the risk of picking up malware as their primary reason, followed by 37 per cent who attributed their change in behaviour to the increased availability of legal options to access their desired content.

Despite there being more legal channels for content now, illegal downloading and streaming still occur partly because “there are few perceived downsides to piracy”, said Meadows.

“Whilst the risk of devices being infected with viruses or malware is understood, it is underweighted. In the face of the benefit of free content, people appear to discount the risks, as the idea of getting something for nothing is psychologically powerful,” she added.

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