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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 familiar themes appear yet again.  The study examines copyright infringement and public sentiments regarding punishment in the United States and Germany

In the study authored by American Assembly VP Joe Karaganis and Dutch freelancer/Ph.D researcher Lennart Renkema, 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 percentages
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.
Music and DVD collection sizes
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.

Source: American Assembly [PDF]



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RE: I call B.S.
By rudolphna on 1/21/2013 7:28:45 PM , Rating: 5
ACtually it does make sense if you think about it. Why? Because they actually have the chance to try it, and decide if they like it and it's worth spending their money on. These days, most people don't want to buy a movie if they don't know that they like it. It's a lot of money. Same thing applies to games. People pirate it, play/watch/listen to it, decide if they like it or not, and purchase it or not. Especially if you want to support the company/artist or whatever. This is especially true with pc games.


RE: I call B.S.
By hughlle on 1/21/2013 7:41:47 PM , Rating: 2
Fully agree.

I buy most all games i enjoy, but i pirate every single one of them first, because experience has shown that seemingly anything as much as 9/10 games i play are absolute crap. I'll pirate it and decide not to buy it rather than buy it and have to run around in circles getting a refund. The same applies to music for most folk i think. An artist releases a single which is great, but instead of just going out and blindly buying the album, a lot of folk will download it to learn that half of the songs are crap, or on the rare occasion the album is actually good and worth buying. Despite what the world would like us to believe, we do not all own an ipod or such device and buy single items off of itunes, we head out and buy whole albums as we grew up doing.


RE: I call B.S.
By Sazabi19 on 1/22/2013 1:06:37 PM , Rating: 2
What I have recently started to do is just download the media in the highest bitrate I can find and if I like it (delete it if not) I will usually donate to the ARTIST. A lot of what you pay at the store goes to the record company. Do I pay full price for the CD? No, but the artist is getting more than he would off the disk I would have bought off retail. If I do like the disk and it's an independent artist I will either buy the CD or donate full price.


RE: I call B.S.
By MrBungle123 on 1/22/2013 10:56:03 AM , Rating: 2
I generally try and stay legit but I'll admit that I recently watched the first two seasons of Walking Dead (pirated) which got me hooked on the show. This however turned out to be in the shows producer's favor since I didn't have Season 3 and needed my fix I streamed it at 2.99 an episode off of Amazon. Were it not for those two pirated seasons though, I would have never cared enough to buy season 3 (the half of it that is out anyway).


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