French movie buffs are illegally downloading at least as many films as they pay to see in cinemas, a study showed on Wednesday.
Alpa, a cinema industry group that fights audiovisual piracy, commissioned the study to compare the numbers of films downloaded on the Internet using peer-to-peer technology with cinema ticket sales.
People in France illegally downloaded more than 13.5 million films in May, according to the study, while the National Centre for Cinematography recorded cinema ticket sales of 12.2 million for the month.
“This is a major phenomenon that could endanger the cinema and audiovisual industry,” Alpa representative Frederic Delacroix told French daily Le Figaro.
According to the study, an average of more than 10 million films are illegally downloaded in France every month, hitting 16.6 million in December 2007.
American films account for 66 percent of French illegal downloads with French films coming in at second place at 19 percent. Fantasy action blockbuster Transformers is the peer-to-peer pirates’ target of choice, with 3.7 million copies illegally downloaded since October 2007.
Research has not yet shown the economic impact of mass illegal downloading on the cinema industry, but sales of DVDs in France are falling.