The illegal copying of feature films onto CDs and DVDs or by downloading from the Internet is becoming more acute in Germany, according to a new study commissioned by the German Federal Film Board (FFA).

5.1m people burnt approximately 30.1m feature films onto 63m blank CDs and DVDs in the first eight months of this year, compared to 27m films for the whole of 2002. Called Burner Study2, the study findings were based on statements from 10,000 interviewees between January and August 2003.

The study calculated that almost 1m people already possessed a copy of the film Terminator 3 - Rise Of The Machines a month after its theatrical opening; and around 1.6m people already had a copy of The Lord Of The Rings - The Two Towers before its video release, while 770,000 had obtained a burnt bootleg of Good Bye, Lenin! before its video release in September.

Downloading from the Internet is also in the increase: the total 13.3m downloaded films in the first eight months of 2003 was almost as many as were downloaded for the whole of 2002 (15.5 million), and the number of downloaders between January and August 2003 reached 2m (2.4m for the whole of 2002).

24% of the downloaders (approx. 500,000 individuals) stated that they downloaded one film a month from the Internet, 15% (300,000) do this between twice and three times a month, and 21% (400,000) do it at least once a week.

Much to the chagrin of the exhibition sector, the majority of the individuals - 71% - copying or downloading films are between the ages of 10 and 39 and thus within the core target group of cinema-goers. Some 46% of those who burn/download films state that they no longer go to the cinema or see fewer films in the cinema since they began burning or downloading films.

Furthermore, 12% of this year's 2m downloaders stated that they had already accessed films with the German soundtrack included, according to the study.