Nearly Half of Americans Pirate Casually, But Pirates Purchase More Legal Content
January 21, 2013 5:52 PM
Only a narrow majority support piracy punishments, while nearly half of people pirate
The latest edition of Columbia University's American Assembly's "Copy Culture" study on piracy and American society has been published and
appear yet again. The study examines
and public sentiments regarding punishment in the United States and Germany
In the study authored by American Assembly VP
and Dutch freelancer/Ph.D researcher
, it is revealed that 45 percent of U.S. citizens and 46 percent of German citizens actively pirate media. Those rates jump to nearly 70 percent when looking at younger demographics.
When it comes to peer-to-peer (P2P) pirates, the authors note an interesting correlation with legal purchases. They write:
They buy as many legal DVDs, CDs, and subscription media services as their non-file-sharing, Internet-using counterparts. In the US, they buy roughly 30% more digital music. They also display marginally higher willingness to pay.
The authors note that most pirates illegally download casually. They write:
In both countries only 14% of adults have acquired most or all of a digital music or video collection this way. Only 2%–3% got most or all of a large collection this way (>1000 songs or >100 movies / TV shows).
The study also found that while only a smaller percentage (around 22 percent in the U.S. among those under 30) copy privately from friends, the practice is more common in Germany. However, the study points out that most people in the U.S. believe private copying is legal, when in fact it carries severe criminal penalties under current, mostly unenforced, laws.
Piracy tends to be remote and pervasive, but mostly casual.
Germans tend to be more supportive of punishments for pirates; 59 percent of Germans back punishments, while only 52 percent of Americans back punishments for filesharers. In America only 37 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds support such penalties, while in Germany 56 percent of the younger demographic supports the penalties.
Only around 20 percent of people in the U.S. and Germany support stricter penalties, though, such as
disconnecting pirates from the internet
. Most are fine with content providers policing posted content and removing infringing links or sending warnings to pirates. But when it comes to stricter punishments or the premise of the
government stepping in
, support sharply drops off.
Perhaps the most interesting conclusion of the study is just how much support there is in both countries for the idea of offering an unlimited pass to media content for a monthly fee. According to the report:
Sixty-one percent of Germans would pay a small broadband fee to compensate creators in return for legalized file sharing.
Forty-eight percent of Americans would do so—a surprisingly high number given the relative invisibility of such proposals in US debates.
The median willingness to pay was $18.79 per month in the US and €16.43 in Germany.
The study found that Germans were only about half as likely pay for TV or own a smartphone (e.g. 35 percent of Americans own smartphones vs. 18 percent for Germans). A broad range of age groups in both countries own DVDs and CDs, but when it comes to digital media, younger age groups substantially outnumber older ones in ownership.
Americans tend to have larger music and DVD collections.
The study was conducted via telephone interview of 2,303 U.S. adults and 1,000 German adults. All those surveyed were over 18. The study authors make it clear that they were careful in how they worded questions to prevent respondents from feeling pressured to lie about their own piracy habits, a complaint the authors make about other studies.
American Assembly [PDF]
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