Illegal downloading: What happens if you're caught in the UK?

Posted in: Online TV/Music at 14/11/2011 19:44

Whether it's swapping songs or swiping movies, almost every internet user has been tempted by the huge amount of free entertainment online. So what's the worst that could happen if you do fill your hard drive with illegal spoils? Robert Verkaik investigates

I remember how chuffed I was when I discovered I could use my Panasonic music centre to tape my mates' vinyl record collections. On just two C120s I recorded the Hawkwind back catalogue and still had space to tack on the best of X-ray Spex (1979 was a musically-confusing year). The music centre was the first mass-produced legal downloader and millions of us created vast vaults of tapes of our favourite bands. I don't remember any heavies from the record industry turning up on my doorstep to threaten me with prosecution for illegal taping. And I don't recall any sanctimonious hectoring about stealing from the mouths of starving artists. They don't make music centres any more. But they do send the men in black round if you try to avoid paying for your albums.

Illegal downloading in the UK has become a massive threat to the music and film industries. In 1997, 78 million singles were sold in the UK; last year, it was just 8.6m. It is estimated that half the population has engaged in some sort of nefarious downloading in the last five years.

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