A campaign to provide clarity for parents was launched today by award-winning Upstairs, Downstairs actress, Keeley Hawes, as a new YouGov study reveals that over a third of parents are unable to spot illegal pirate sites.

Keeley Hawes
  • Over a third of parents unable to spot pirate websites for music, film and TV content
  • Research reveals illegal copycat sites could be misleading consumers to infringe copyright
  • Upstairs Downstairs actress, Keeley Hawes, launches online guide for parents in partnership with internet safety charity, Childnet International

While a third of consumers (36%) admit to accessing entertainment from pirate websites, the online study released today, suggests many more could be being misled into accidental infringement. Copycat sites often charge for film and music and offer payment facilities from trusted providers and carry advertising from well-known brands – all of which can confuse consumers looking for entertainment content online.

The online YouGov study asked 2,061 UK adults to differentiate websites offering music, film and TV illegally from legitimate retailer sites by showing them five de-branded screen-grabs from a selection of pirate and legitimate sites. It revealed:

  • One in four of all UK adults (24%) was unable to differentiate any pirate websites from the real deal
  • Confusion was high among parents in particular: 36% of parents were unable to correctly identify any of the pirate websites
  • Young people aged 18-24 were the least likely to be confused by pirate sites

Research reveals risks attached to pirate sites

The research reveals the safety and security risks associated with pirate sites:

  • One in five (21%) of those who have used pirate websites have encountered viruses that have affected their computer, putting their household’s online security and privacy at risk
  • More than a quarter (27%) were troubled by pop-ups that were difficult to get rid of
  • 7% were exposed to offensive or sexually explicit material instead of the film, TV or music they attempted to access

Actress launches campaign to support parents

The research builds on Ofcom’s findings last year that 41% of adults are unsure whether the content they are accessing online is legal or not – and points to the need to provide parents, in particular, with greater support.

Upstairs, Downstairs actress and mum of three, Keeley Hawes is teaming up with internet safety charity, Childnet International, to launch an online guide designed to help parents and those who are not confident in their abilities to spot pirate websites. Music, Film, TV and the Internet provides advice on how to determine whether a site is legal or not and points to legal sources of content online.

Keeley Hawes said:

As a mum, I try to take an active interest in the websites my children visit to get their films and music from. It’s important to know where they can access their favourite songs, films and TV programmes safely and legally both for their protection and my own peace of mind. It’s great to get this advice on this all in one place.

Responding to the research, Lucinda Fell, Director of Policy at Childnet International, said:

We know that many parents are concerned about keeping up with what their children are doing online and accessing digital content can be a particularly unclear area. We know from our work in schools, and as this study shows, it can be confusing to know what can and can't be done safely and legally online. This advice on accessing music, film and TV content online gives parents and carers practical information and advice about accessing entertainment online, and signposts to where they and their children can enjoy this content safely and legally.

The new advice can be found at www.childnet.com/downloading and features top tips, including:

Don’t be fooled by well-known brands and logos
Just because a site charges for music, film or TV programmes and carries advertising from well-known brands it does not always mean it’s legal.

Use your common sense
If the film or album you’re looking for hasn’t been officially released, it’s unlikely to be available on the internet legally.

Find music, film and TV legally
There are hundreds of legitimate websites where you can find great value or even free music, films and TV programmes at the click of a button. To find legal music websites, check out www.whymusicmatters.org. To search for films from trusted sites, visit www.findanyfilm.com. To verify a website and check whether it is legitimate or not, enter the URL into the search function at www.thecontentmap.com

Explore how to use parental controls
Parental controls can be set to block certain websites and access to peer-to-peer file sharing sites can be blocked in this way. Filtering tools can also help to filter out offensive content on websites. Because of the way filesharing services work, filtering tools that block offensive content like pornography for example are not always effective in blocking the same content when it is made available through filesharing. You can see how to set parental controls at www.childnet.com/resources/parental-controls

Secure your wireless connection
Check your wireless connection and ensure it is secure with a password so others can’t use your connection.