The Strategic Advisory Board for Intellectual Property claims that seven million UK residents have illegally downloaded files from the internet in the last 12 months, with the cumulative value of the stolen material estimated to be £120bn.
It adds that 1.3m people use a file-sharing network at least once a week, the BBC reports.
The increased availability of super-fast broadband connections, such as Virgin Media’s new 50MB service, is helping to fuel an increase in such downloading. A fully up-to-speed connection can deliver a standard definition film in three minutes.
“This is not an issue confined by national boundaries,” Intellectual Property Minister David Lammy said. “I am sure that other EU member states and their copyright industries will find this report of use in the development of policy.”
All of this, of course, relies on the presumption than a person who downloads a file would have otherwise purchased it – a belief that by all intents is rather far-fetched.