Singapore online users are ninth worst in Internet pirates in the world: Report
Despite having an abundance of content options such as Netflix and Spotify, online users in Singapore are the ninth worst Internet pirates in the world, a report has found.
London-based tech firm Muso found that each Internet user here visited piracy sites 180 times last year, on average.
Singapore is the only non-European country in the top 10 list. Belarus is the most rampant in accessing illegal content, with each user visiting such sites 284 times, followed by Lithuania (269) and Georgia (243).
The ranking is based on the number of visits to piracy sites as a ratio to the country’s Internet-user population. Data was culled from more than 23,000 of the highest traffic sites globally, covering over 200 million devices, including desktops and mobile devices, from more than 220 countries.
Forms of online piracy covered include Web streaming, Web downloads, public and private torrents, and stream ripping.
Streaming formed the lion’s share of illegal access to content, followed by public torrent sites and Web download.
Muso — which deals in anti-piracy solutions for the film, TV, music and publishing industries — tracked 191 billion visits to piracy sites overall last year, which translates to around 53 visits per internet user.
These figures do not include data from China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and North Korea because the firm’s domain coverage for these locations was not complete during the period of the study, Muso said.
In terms of absolute numbers, the United States is top, accounting for 20 billion visits to piracy sites, the Muso report stated. However, this translates to just nearly 71 visits per Internet user there.
Back in 2015, a survey commissioned by the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore found that fewer people here consider it a crime to download online content from illegal sources or engage in unauthorised file sharing, compared with four years earlier.
About one in two respondents, or 54.9 per cent, viewed downloading from unauthorised sources as theft, down from some three in four (or 77.8 per cent) in 2010.
Common reasons for online intellectual property rights infringements cited by respondents in that survey include convenience and unwillingness to pay for content.
Intellectual property experts interviewed by TODAY raised some factors that could have affected the results in the Muso report.
Mr Bryan Tan, from law firm Pinsent Masons, said that Internet users from some countries could have used virtual private network, or VPN, to access illegal content, but are not being tracked or are wrongly tracked by Muso.
Likewise, the data was also taken from more than 23,000 of the highest-traffic sites, which are likely to contain English material and could have excluded data from sites in other languages, for instance.
Mr Tan noted that some of the illegal sites contain content, such as Asian films and shows, which are not as widely distributed and accessible to people. This may explain why online users go to these sites despite having legitimate content options such as Netflix and Spotify.
Mr Jason Chan, director of Amica Law, said that the exclusion of some countries could also affect the results because they have high Internet access as well.
He would not be too alarmed at the findings because the results do not show enough to determine if Singapore is a nation of pirates. “We have the legal measures in place, I think we have done all that can be reasonably expected,” Mr Chan said.