Half of Hong Kong Internet users admit copyright violation

Nearly half of Hong Kong Internet users admit they have engaged in downloading or sharing copyrighted material, a survey conducted by the International Federation Against Copyright Theft – Greater China late last year.

The group must have been exasperated upon learning that they’re talking to people they would have sued for so-called “intellectual property violation”. But it’s not that the response was shocking, as Hong Kong presents somewhat unique opportunity for even for those who are unwilling to break the law. Hong Kong has high Internet penetration rate and has an average broadband rate of 8.6Mbps (only Korea is faster). Coupled with relatively weak laws, such situation offers a tempting case for folks who wish to listen to music or watch films for free.

The survey, which was commissioned in October 2009, found that 46.5 percent of the 858 respondents admitted that more than half of their download activities were illegal by nature. But 71 percent of those interviewed are willing to stop activities if a warning system. The group is proposing a “Gradual Response System” under which will notify the internet service provider with internet protocol address of the offending user. The ISP will then issue the warning to the subscriber. After subsequent violations, ISPs would deliberately slow down user’s download speed or issue a temporary suspension of access.

The proposal seems fair to copyright owners. Currently they are required to get a court order before they can demand disclosure of information from ISPs.