Western Europe is a hotbed of P2P piracy, said the Entertainment Software Association in a press release earlier today.
The trade group, which represents the interests of U.S. video game publishers, included its findings as part of a report to the U.S. Trade Representative by the International Intellectual Property Alliance.
The ESA says that it studied P2P sharing of 13 popular game titles in December, and logged nearly 6.5 million illegal downloads. Italy was the leading offender, followed by Spain, France, Germany and Poland.
The ESA also indicated that it found "high demand" for console and handheld titles, which it says translates to "widespread availability of circumvention devices and game copiers in many leading markets."
Here's what the ESA had to say about Italy:
For a popular AAA racing title alone, Italy had close to 590,000 downloads... Telecom Italia’s networks were implicated in 11.6% of the completed downloads observed globally, making it the world’s most heavily utilized ISP in the course of the industry’s study... It was also found that with greater incidence of video game piracy through P2P networks, there appeared to be a corresponding and dramatic decrease in legitimate sales of entertainment software. Individual member company online monitoring confirms these trends.
The industry is also plagued by the easy availability online of circumvention devices, such as mod chips. This situation was exacerbated by a court decision in Bolzano, Italy, holding that mod chips were not illegal under Italian legislation implementing the EU Copyright Directive. Fortunately, the Supreme Court in 2006 reversed this court decision and found that circumvention devices are illegal under Italian law, but the damage was done and continues.