People who illegally download billions of pounds worth of movies also love going to the cinema and do not mind paying to watch movies, according to researchers at the University of Portsmouth.
The study, the first to examine the differences between movie and music pirates, found that those who steal movies are more likely to be wealthier and less worried about being caught than their music counterparts.
But, according to Dr Joe Cox and Professor Alan Collins, economists at the University of Portsmouth, they are also more likely to cut down their piracy if they feel they are harming the industry.
The researchers, whose study is published in the Journal of Behavioural and Experimental Economics, also found that movie pirates are more likely to live in large cities and be ‘early adopters’ of new technology.
Dr Cox said: “It is interesting to see that people who illegally download large quantities of movie files continue to pay for legal movie consumption to a far greater extent than music downloaders.
“However, it came as no surprise to find that the most prolific pirates of either movies or music tend to be younger men. They have the skills, the motivation and the equipment between them to steal large volumes of music tracks and movies every month.”
The researchers analysed results from a survey of more than 6,000 people aged seven to 84 in Finland to examine the attitudes of those who illegally download movies and music from the internet.
On average, each person had illegally downloaded about 2,900 music files and 90 movie files. Experts claim the cost of piracy in the US alone is 12.5 billion US dollars (£7.38 billion) to the music industry and 20.5 billion US dollars (£12.1 billion) to the movie industry.
Dr Cox said: “These findings are important from a policy perspective, because they suggest campaigns that emphasise the harmful effects on the movie industry of piracy are much more likely to be effective than similar campaigns focusing on the music industry.
“One of the reasons movie pirates are a different breed is downloading and file-sharing films is much more technologically demanding. It requires faster internet speeds, greater digital storage capabilities and access to a wider range of devices for playback than pirating music, which has now become relatively simple, fast and cheap.”
Among the reasons people gave for downloading files illegally were that it saved money, allowed access to material not on general release or before it was released, and has benefits such as helping artists bypass record companies or movie studios.
Reasons given for not downloading or for limiting piracy included fear of downloading viruses or malware, content not matching the description, being difficult to find, and being of poor quality.