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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: worth and punishment
By arazok on 1/23/2013 9:54:41 AM , Rating: 2
And without record companies, music would still be created. It just wouldn’t be distributed as effectively.

Perhaps my analogy is not perfect, but it gets the point I’m trying to make across. The nature of digital content makes it inherently worthless. It’s the distribution of it that has always made money. You are not required to charge your friends to come over and listen to a song. You can play it as many times as you like for no additional charge. The music is free, the medium is not.

Anyways, I’m just trying to present a different way of looking at it. Music, the internet, and everything around it is entirely a human construct. We can choose to look at “what” it is in anyways we choose. I’m just trying to present a view that I think is fair to everybody. The record companies would still make LOTS of money by focusing on distribution and services, we wouldn’t need lawyers or police to enforce any laws, and individuals would be free to access it in any way they choose. The hard way for free, or the easy way for a fee. This is exactly the setup the market is trying to create, and the only thing holding it back is companies with dated business models and the politicians they have in their pockets.


"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes














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