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The majority of U.S. online consumers do not believe downloading movies illegally from the Web is a very serious offense, a research firm said Wednesday.
A survey by the Solutions Research Group found that most consumers suffered from the "Robin Hood effect," when it came to stealing copyrighted movies from online peer-to-peer networks. "Most people perceive celebrities and studios to be rich already, and as a result don't think of movie downloading as a big deal," study director Kaan Yigit said in a statement.
Only four in 10 of the respondents believed downloading movies was a very serious offense, compared to nearly 60% who felt the same about parking in a fire lane. Compare that to the brick-and-mortar scenario where almost 80% of respondents rated stealing a DVD from a store as a very serious offense.
A total of 32 million Americans aged 12 or above, or 18% of the U.S. population, have downloaded a full-length movie sometime in the past, the study found. Nearly two-thirds of those consumers had downloaded a film in the last month.
Fully 80% of the "downloaders" used peer-to-peer file-sharing sites, Solutions Research said. Typical users were 29 years old and had 15 titles stored on their PCs. Fully, 63% were male, 37% female.
"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 covert the current users to their services -- otherwise file-sharing will continue to thrive," Yigit said.
The Solutions Research Group's Digital Life America trend study was based on telephone or online surveys of 2,600 Americans.