Singapore loves to watch pirated content, reveals survey

A survey conducted by Sycamore and CASBAA reveals that the piracy rate of movies, TV shows, and live sports is very high in Singapore, most prominently through TV boxes and online streaming sites.

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About 39 percent of Singaporeans have admitted that they illegally stream or download movies, shows and live sports, reveals a survey by Sycamore, a research firm in Singapore. The survey was released at a press event sponsored by the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (CASBAA) on Tuesday.

The press release stated that the survey was conducted on 1000 citizens, along with 300 users of illegal streaming sites, to study their behavior patterns and online habits. Sycamore has done research on the markets of Australia, Taiwan, and New Zealand, but Singapore has the highest piracy rate, said Anna Meadows, the research director.

"While these numbers are already concerning, they rely on the candour of respondents and undoubtedly underestimate the true scale of the problem," John Medeiros, CASBAA's chief policy officer, said at the event. The study also says that TV boxes are "changing the face of piracy" in Singapore, where 14 percent people have admitted to using them. This number is much higher than that of the US and UK.

Singaporeans are aware that such practices amount to stealing, yet three quarters of the population believe it to be normal. Among them, 63 percent say that the money factor motivates their actions, as piracy is free and without any consequence. The danger of contracting a computer virus or malware through these sites is not enough to deter these users.

"In the face of the benefit of free content, people appear to discount the risks, as the idea of getting something for nothing is so psychologically powerful," said Meadows, adding that piracy has now become a "socially acceptable behavior" for everybody. The survey further explained that a third of the Singaporeans pirates agree that the laws against piracy should be stricter.

The Singapore Government is consulting the entertainment industry and working on their proposal regarding copyright laws, revealed Medeiros. The industry has suggested conducting "energetic enforcement actions" to curb piracy, citing Thailand's action of shutting Thai Expat TV in May.

A joint statement by the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore and the Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore said, "Respect for intellectual property is key as we seek to grow our digital economy and the media and innovation ecosystems. We support the efforts of industry players in raising awareness of intellectual property issues, and urge viewers to be mindful not to infringe copyright and to consume legitimate content," they added.

It has also been found illegal online streaming sites are the most popular among pirates, followed by torrent websites, generally accessed from desktops rather than cell phones. This survey has brought an already concerning international issue under further limelight.