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‘Singaporeans know piracy is theft, but to them it’s normal behaviour’

More than half of Singapore’s population indulges in streaming or downloading illegal content despite knowing it to be a criminal offence, a new study has revealed.

Although Singapore may have one of the lowest crime rates in the world, nearly 40 per cent of its people currently stream or download pirated movies, television shows or live sports channels.

According to research company Sycamore, 68 per cent of Singaporeans recognise that pirating content is stealing or theft, but many still carry on with it regardless.

A further 74 per cent said they understood illegal content puts them at a higher risk of getting viruses, spyware and other malware.

Meanwhile, despite the plethora of online streaming services available in Singapore, such as Netflix, Hooq and Mediacorp’s Toggle, 14 per cent of Singaporeans admitted to using an ‘illicit streaming device’ or a TV box.

The study, which surveyed 1,000 people in Singapore, plus a further 300 pirated content consumers, also found that 40 per cent of people had stopped pirating due to the malware risks, while 37 per cent were turning towards legal options.

The research follows a report by technology company Muso that placed Singapore ninth in the world’s online piracy rankings. According to Quartz, the study showed Singapore to be the wealthiest country in the top 10 rankings. Yet the majority of people surveyed by Sycamore – 68 per cent – said their piracy activities were motivated by the desire to access content for free.

“The notion that piracy is something that everybody does nowadays turns it into a socially acceptable behaviour”, said Sycamore research director Anna Meadows.

“Numerous studies have shown that what we perceive others to be doing has a far stronger influence on our behaviour than what we know we ‘ought’ to do. People know that they shouldn’t really pirate, but they continue to do so because they believe those around them do as well. Interestingly, even among active pirates, almost a third agree that authorities should be able to take more action to deter piracy.”

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