Nearly Half of Americans Pirate Casually, But Pirates Purchase More Legal Content
January 21, 2013 5:52 PM
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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
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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RE: Private home copying is often legal.
1/24/2013 2:10:54 PM
"That law doesn't conflict with the aforementioned cases, but works through a loophole to essentially block private copies." No it doesn't. You seem to be assuming that I'm talking about breaking BT+ or CSS for movies. Neither I nor the author I responded to limited the discussion to digital video works protected by an effective copy-protection scheme (what the DMCA anti-circumvention clauses apply to). I specifically thought of audio, game cartridge ROMs, or even multi-generational copies of videos (copy of a copy = someone else broke that law; not you).
If I made my own copyright-protected music then I can copy it and distribute it freely. Anyone who receives those copies can copy and share privately as long as they don't sell it. Corporations don't have any more rights than I do in that situation except where a copy protection measure was circumvented. Got it? It's perfectly legal as long as it isn't anonymously distributed, which is the precedent Napster set after allowing anon distribution on a large scale. This annoys me because I may have made the song song specifically to allow large scale anonymous distribution despite my assertion of ownership.
And, yes, more than simply CDs and music formats are legal to copy privately from an original. You seem to be hung up on digital video formats, so I'll use one as an example: I got a mini DVD video of extreme sports what was included with a Wal-Mart Exclusive version of the Gamecube game "1080 Avalanche." I considered sharing copies with a few friends because it was hard to find, not sold on its own, and completely unencrypted. It would have been perfectly legal for me to do so. It was actually stolen from me in 2004 and I do wish I had a backup (gray area; I still own the original). Other examples: I own several Japanese Super Famicom games (Japanese Super Nintendo). I can dump the manufactured mask ROMs with my EEPROM programmer and patch the resulting file with an IPS patch that applies an English translation. I can then program that onto a blank EEPROM chip and put it back into the cart to play an english version on my SNEs or SFC. Perfectly legal. I did not distribute it. I did not sell it. If I sold it including the original chip, then I exercised my right granted by First Sale Doctrine and did not profit off of their copyrighted work. Any resale value increase was from my own work as long as I remain within the single copy afforded to me to do with as I please by First Sale Doctrine.
That leads me to another point. The "single backup" rule that everyone quote as part of copyright law is actually part of standard EULAs. The "Don't Copy That Floppy" video LIED.
My point is that it sets a bad precedent to use blanket statements like "private home copying is illegal" and it sets a bad precedent to assume that copying a copyrighted disc, like the unprotected 1080 promo, is illegal.
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