Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - Online piracy causes UK retailers a private tear

Digital piracy is costing the UK retail market nearly half a billion pounds in lost income, according to a new report.

Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 17 September

Online piracy causes UK retailers a private tear

Digital piracy is costing the UK retail market nearly half a billion pounds in lost income, according to a new report.

The report, released today by monitoring service Musicmetric, found that 345 million individual tracks were illegally downloaded during the first six months of the year. The British Phonographic Industry estimates that the number of illicit downloads equates to an estimated annual loss of £500 million in retail sales.

Ed Sheeran’s album + proved to be the most popular illegal download in the UK; the title was downloaded 55,512 times per month on average. In comparison, legal sales of the album were 448,000. However, Mr Sheeran said he wasn’t overly concerned about online piracy.

“I sell a lot of tickets,” he told the BBC. “I’ve sold 1.2 million albums, and the stat is that there’s 8 million downloads of that as well illegally.

“Nine million people have my record, in England, which is quite a nice feeling.”

The most common downloads varied from town to town, according to the authors of the report. Residents of Bournemouth and Galashiels favoured classic rock such as The Eagles and The Smiths, while in the Isle of Wight crooner Louis Armstrong was the most downloaded artist. Meanwhile illegal downloads in Kidlington were more pop-focused, with teenage pop artist Justin Bieber’s songs proving the most popular.

Although over 46 million albums and singles have been downloaded by British internet users during the first half of 2012, the UK remains the second most prolific nation in terms of illegal downloads. The United States has the most illegal downloads, with over 95 million albums and singles downloaded in the same period.

Questions for discussion

For primary:

  • Do you think it is wrong to steal? Why?
  • What might make people want to download music illegally?

For secondary:

  • What is your opinion on digital piracy? Does it count as stealing?
  • Has illegal downloading become a part of our culture now? If so, what do you think might have caused this?

Related resources

Illegal downloading – the facts

  • Prepare students for a class debate with this PowerPoint about music downloading.

What’s wrong with downloading?

  • This video and comprehension activity will help pupils understand the effects of illegal downloading.


  • Introduce students to copyright laws with this PowerPoint about PRS and MCPRS.

Digital citizens

  • Help pupils understand how to behave online with this quick guide from Pooky_TES.

Further news resources

First News front page

  • Help your pupils understand the features of the front page of a newspaper.

Write all about it

  • Get students creating their own news report with this step-by-step guide.

What is the News?

  • A sociological and media perspective on what makes an event 'newsworthy'.

On the box

  • Help pupils to write their own TV news broadcast with this handy PowerPoint.

Structuring stories

  • A scheme of work to help students structure news stories.

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In the news archive index