Spain logs highest piracy rate in Europe

Half of broadband users illegally downloading music, pix

Spain has the highest film piracy levels in Western Europe as a report reveals that more than half the country’s broadband Internet users practice peer-to-peer piracy.

Report’s findings come as devices that allow Spaniards to transfer downloads directly to TV — a further encouragement for massive downloading — are hitting stores.

The numbers of P2P downloads exploded from 18 million pics in 2004 to 132 million between July 2005 and July 2006.

With broadband Internet subscribers standing at 5 million in Spain, a 50% level of P2P downloading put P2P users at a minimum 2.5 million.

But given the tendency in Spain for several family members to use the same broadband account, the number of P2P practitioners is likely to be far higher.

Compiled by market research company Gfk for Spanish antipiracy org Federacion Anti Pirateria (FAP), the study, based on 2,000 interviews, will be published shortly.

Spanish authorities have begun to crack down on street bootlegging of DVDs. But the effect of P2P piracy on Spain’s film market is ruining the industry, FAP claims.

An MPA study released in February established Internet and street piracy levels in Spain at 32% of overall biz, calculated by the level of legal business lost through piracy. That figure compared with 25% for Italy and 20% for France, said FAP managing director Jose Manuel Tourne.

Following FAP complaints, 17 P2P Web sites, including Hispatorrent.com and Descargasdonkey.com, were closed in April. But many remain.

Spain’s public prosecutor’s office maintains that P2P exchanges of files do not constitute criminal infringement.

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