Online Piracy Becomes a ‘National Sport’ in France

Edging ever closer to becoming law, France's "three-strikes" proposals have received support in the French Senate which voted overwhelmingly in favor for these draconian measures to deal with piracy. Now, a new report suggests that online piracy has become something of a 'national sport' in France.

The online file-sharing debate is really heating up in France. Contrary to advice from the European Court of Justice, France is pressing ahead with its plan for a controversial “3 strikes” or “graduated response” framework to deal with alleged file-sharers. Now, supported by a Le Figaro headline, “Piracy Has Become a National Sport in France”, a new study from market research company TNS Sofres is set to add fuel to the fire.

According to the poll of 2,011 people over 15 years old, the French use a diverse range of digital media to store or play pirated content. Of those questioned, 34% said their media players contained pirated files, with 20% admitting they go as far as using external hard drives to store illicit content. The USB storage key was used by 8% of respondents to shift illegal content, with 7% admitting to using mutimedia-capable cellphones.

Although the piracy ‘problem’ seems to be massive in France, it is certainly not limited to that one country. Just over the English Channel from France lies the UK, where an estimated 6 million people engage in online piracy – roughly 10% of the population. Across the pond, in the United States, a 2007 study found that 18 percent of the total US online population downloaded at least 1 movie from the Internet, illegally.

The French survey shows that the ‘problem’ is not limited to the younger generation, as is often assumed – it affects the entire population. The report further suggests that the actual numbers might be much greater than reported, but with news of draconian measures to deal with online piracy making headlines regularly, just how many people are prepared to be honest about their piracy habits?

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