Pirated Web downloads costly throughout Europe

BRUSSELS – Europeans downloaded 10 billion euros worth of pirated music, film, television shows and software from the Web in 2008, an entertainment industry study said Wednesday.

The International Chamber of Commerce said its report showed that digital piracy could escalate and cost media and entertainment industries 240 billion euros in retail revenue and 1.2 million jobs by 2015.

The 2015 estimate is a worst-case scenario, the study said, based on consumer Web traffic growing 24 percent annually.

“For us, file sharing is another word for theft,” Agnete Haaland, the head of the International Actors Federation told reporters.

Teens frequently pass music and movies to their friends without realizing that they are illegally sharing copyrighted material, said William Maunier, who leads the UNI trade union representing media company workers.

“You have to educate young people,” he said.

Industry representatives did not say how they thought growing Internet piracy should be tackled, saying they just want people to see the extent of the problem.

They said they also wanted to show the costs to the European Parliament, which last year tried unsuccessfully to challenge France’s tough measures against illegal downloaders.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy had advocated a “three strikes and you’re out” rule, under which Internet use would be tracked and users caught downloading would be warned twice before their Internet access would be cut off for a year.

Britain is also considering similar rules.

The report written by Tera Consultants said that 8.5 million people in the European Union work in creative industries such as television, publishing and radio.

It claims that over 185,000 jobs were lost because of digital piracy in 2008.

This figure includes people whose jobs are marginally tied to the creative industry, such as manufacturers and wholesalers of cameras and music players.

The report uses data from EU countries, the World Intellectual Property Organization and Eurostat, the EU’s statistical gathering arm.


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