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Spotify, your work is done: Illegal downloaders less likely to pay for music than films, study reveals

Movie download pirates like to go to the cinema and will sometimes pay for films, new research shows.

Whereas illegal music downloaders are unlikely to buy their music in equal measure and fear being caught, film lovers are likely to be wealthier and more reckless in their download habits.

Economist researcher Dr Joe Cox, University of Portsmouth, said to The Guardian, "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."

Perhaps due to the wide acceptance of desktop and mobile streaming sites such as Spotify and Deezer, which essentially consign music listening to the free realm, music fans are less likely to cease illegal downloads if they feel they are harming the industry, whereas film lovers will halt their downloading.

The research consisted of a survey of more than 6,000 people aged seven to 84 in Finland and was published in the Journal of Behavioural and Experimental Economics. On average each participant had illegally downloaded 90 movies and 2,900 tracks.

"One of the reasons movie pirates are a different breed is downloading and filesharing films is much more technologically demanding," said Cox. "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.

Previous studies have found that illegal filesharers tend to purchase more films and music than those that do not access the files illegally, the former being greater consumers of media in general.

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."

To date, it is estimated that the cost of piracy to the US music and film industries is $12.5 billion (£7.4bn) and $20.5 billion (£12.1bn), respectively.