Illegal downloads near BO levels in France

Leaked report reveals scale of pircy problem

PARIS — According to a report from a leading national anti-piracy association, close to 450,000 illegal downloads of recent films are being made every day in France, putting illegal pirate copies close to the level of legitimate box-office entries.

In the largest study of its kind ever undertaken in France, the Association Against Audiovisual Piracy (ALPA) scrutinized Internet traffic between November 2007 and June 2008 originating from France to foreign networks permitting illegal peer-to-peer (P2P) downloading.

Certain details of the ALPA report, which will not be released officially until early September, were leaked via the Internet earlier this week without the Association’s knowledge or consent.

The study focused on the 100 most sought-after foreign and French film downloads in the eight-month period, which represented 90% of the illicit traffic.

Mirroring its phenomenal domestic box office success, French comedy “Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis” (Welcome to the Sticks) topped the illegal download chart, averaging around 9,800 per day since early March.

The film, which has sold over 20.3 million tickets domestically, was available online within days of its general French release.

ALPA calculated it had been pirated around 682,000 times during the period studied.

“We are facing a major phenomenon that can endanger the film industry and (other) audiovisual industries. We did not expect such numbers,” ALPA director Frederic Delacroix told Agence France Presse on Tuesday.

Delacroix went on to say that ALPA’s findings might even be underestimating the scope of the illegal downloading problem in France, since the Association had based its findings on only the most popular foreign P2P networks allowing such downloading.

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