SINGAPORE - Here's a shocking statistic you may not have known: Almost one in two netizens here visits websites which illegally host music and movies, among other files, for free downloading.
This is according to estimates revealed to my paper last month by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).
It estimated that between 45 and 50 per cent of Internet users in Singapore accessed unlicensed sites earlier this year.
IFPI is a Swiss-based global trade organisation representing over 1,000 producers and distributors of sound recordings.
The Digital Music Report 2012, released by IFPI in January, showed that the worldwide average for Internet users who accessed unauthorised services on a monthly basis was about 28 per cent.
These figures come at a time when Singapore aims to become an intellectual-property (IP) hub in Asia.
In March, Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam revealed in Parliament that an inter-agency working group was set up last year to look into copyright issues.
He added that Singapore had an average of about 300,000 incidences of illegal downloading a month, based on data from rights holders - one of the highest incidences of online digital piracy in the Asia-Pacific region.
Music sales here have taken a beating in recent years. Compared to 2010, the physical and digital sale of music in Singapore fell by close to 23 per cent last year, said IFPI.
Noting the downward trend in music sales over the past five years, IFPI's Asia regional director, Ms Leong May Seey, said the decline could be due to a "high level of digital-music piracy" and the "lack of sustainable licensed digital-music platforms".
Several brick-and-mortar music shops have been hit by the drop in sales of physical copies of music albums.