More than half of Singaporeans download music and videos illegally, even while they condemn piracy as a form of theft.
A survey of 900 people last year by Singapore-based research consultancy Sycamore Research and Marketing showed that 61 per cent of people here aged 16 to 64 download movies and videos illegally over the Internet. And 17 per cent do so at least once a week.
This is even though 66 per cent conceded what they were doing was stealing.
Over 180 people from the media and creative industries were told of the findings yesterday at an event at GV Grand cinema.
Mr Ang Kwee Tiang, regional director of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, said the local music recording industry was in dire straits and urged responsible online behaviour. What was an almost $90 million industry in 1997 made just $20 million in 2012, Mr Ang said.
This despite the availability of "legal and reasonably priced alternatives in Singapore" like Amped, a streaming service, and Rdio, an Internet radio service, he added.
He called for quick steps to make illegal content less available - a challenge when most illegal content is easily accessible and hosted overseas.
Piracy is rampant among youth in particular, with seven out of 10 between the ages of 16 and 24 downloading illegal content.
Some said piracy has become such a social norm that they do not think twice about it.
"Everybody does it and everybody is used to it, so it doesn't feel like a crime," said a 29-year-old marketing manager, who visits piracy site The Pirate Bay to download United States TV shows at least twice a week.