Print 36 comment(s) - last by CZroe.. on Jan 24 at 2:10 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 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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Private home copying is often legal.
By CZroe on 1/22/2013 12:38:07 AM , Rating: 4
"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."

Give me a break. Look up the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992 or Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc. ("the BETAMAX case").

While you're at it, look up "Fair Use" and "First Sale Doctrine."

RE: Private home copying is often legal.
By theapparition on 1/22/2013 10:35:09 AM , Rating: 3
Well if you were so astute, than you'd also know about the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

That law doesn't conflict with the aforementioned cases, but works through a loophole to essentially block private copies.

The two cases you mention absolutely give you the right to copy any purchased work for private use. However, the DMCA makes it illegal to break encryption. So you're allowed to make a copy if it's not encrypted. But if the work is encrypted, you're not allowed to break the encryption to allow you to make the copy. See the difference?

All movies on DVD and Blu-Rays are encrypted so there's the proverbial pickle.

FWIW, I think that all works should have the ability to be copied and used on a variety of media devices. If I buy a Blu-Ray of Disney's "Cars", I should be able to watch that Blu-Ray on TV, copy it to a DVD for use in a vehicle, watch it on a computer and even put a copy on my phone and tablet for use.

RE: Private home copying is often legal.
By RufusM on 1/22/2013 11:32:12 AM , Rating: 2
The DMCA definitely needs to have the FAIR USE Act passed to enable legitimate copying for personal use.

Having said that, there are several precedents out there that uphold the Fair Use Doctrine over the DMCA. If you own the content and make a copy for your own personal use, chances are you won't be dragged into court. If you are, there are precedents to back you up.

RE: Private home copying is often legal.
By bah12 on 1/22/2013 11:58:14 AM , Rating: 2
If you are, there are precedents to back you up.
Can you link to one? The only one case I've read about is the on in CA where the judge refused to rule on the right to copy, and merely upheld the DMCA. Essentially creating the precedent the OP mentions, that you can copy it if you can figure out how to without bypassing the encryption.

I agree that I it would be a tough case to lose, but I have never actually seen one specifically that dealt with bypassing an encryption to make a personal copy. I believe it is because the media creators know they would lose, and thus won't even risk taking such a case to court as it would undermine their scare tactics.

RE: Private home copying is often legal.
By Donovan on 1/22/2013 1:34:03 PM , Rating: 3
I think the best case in the US right now is Chamberlain v. Skylink. The US CAFC (one step below the Supreme Court) held that the maker of a garage door opener (GDO) cannot invoke the DMCA's anti-circumvention clause against the maker of an aftermarket remote control because the GDO owner already has the right to use the GDO software. From the decision (page 43):

The Copyright Act authorized Chamberlain’s customers to use the copy of Chamberlain’s copyrighted software embedded in the GDOs that they purchased. Chamberlain’s customers are therefore immune from [DMCA's anti-circumvention] liability.

The decision specifically does not address contracts or EULAs, however (page 40):

It is not clear whether a consumer who circumvents a technological measure controlling access to a copyrighted work in a manner that enables uses permitted under the Copyright Act but prohibited by contract can be subject to liability under the DMCA.

By bah12 on 1/22/2013 3:30:42 PM , Rating: 2
Interesting, so there is hope for at least a shred of common sense in law. I'd still feel a lot better about doing it, if there were a case more directly related (not that it's going to stop me).

By CZroe on 1/24/2013 2:10:54 PM , Rating: 2
"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.

RE: Private home copying is often legal.
By Donovan on 1/22/2013 12:52:33 PM , Rating: 2
"Private" copying in the context of the article also includes giving copies to family and friends. Note the line immediately before the one you quoted (emphasis added):

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.

They are distinguishing this small-scale personal sharing from the large-scale anonymous sharing online.

By CZroe on 1/24/2013 2:03:13 PM , Rating: 2
In case you missed it, I was specifically saying that your scenarios is ALSO allowed by law as long as no profit was made and no copy protections were circumvented. These laws were tried and tested back when the earliest bootleg concert recordings were getting passed around.

I buy it then download it
By fiskov on 1/21/2013 7:47:49 PM , Rating: 5
I bought 27 movies last year, 19 of which I then downloaded.. Why?
I have to get the disc out, put it in the machine, sit through 5 minutes of un-skippable content followed by pressing the "go to menu" button repeatedly until finally searching around "interactive menus" for the "start movie" button.
While when i download it, I just press "play" and it begins.

For the love of God fix this; I know it says "ultimate cinema experience" on the BluRay box but i didn't want this part.

RE: I buy it then download it
By seamonkey79 on 1/22/2013 7:33:14 AM , Rating: 5
Same... also the same reason I really have to talk myself into going to a theater to see a movie. I just want to watch the movie. The number of times I've been convinced to see a movie based on a trailer I saw before the movie would be zero.

Let me skip right past the trash and watch the movie. Make me watch those stupid 'don't steal this' things when I've got the purchased disc in, and you're making me want it in a format that doesn't have that, and the easiest way (not arguing right/wrong here) is to torrent a pre-ripped copy.

RE: I buy it then download it
By seamonkey79 on 1/22/2013 7:34:51 AM , Rating: 5
RE: I buy it then download it
By chris2618 on 1/22/2013 4:00:28 PM , Rating: 2
I've done the same with software . One program i got just would not activate rung them emailed them etc and got no where so now i just buy it then get pirate copy that actually lets me use it

Hooray for broadband fees
By ShieTar on 1/22/2013 7:38:32 AM , Rating: 2
Sixty-one percent of Germans would pay a small broadband fee to compensate creators in return for legalized file sharing.

Which is a rather stupid opinion, since we (I am german) already pay a significant fee on each smartphone (36€), video camera (10€), hard-drive (up to 34€), DVD writer (11€), blank DVD (0.30€) and thumb drive/flash card (2€) we buy. This was introduced with the express justification by the recording industries that piracy can't be surpressed, so it should be compensated by such fees. Of course, the introduction of this fee did not stop the recording industries from trying to sue every single teenager they can identify trying to copy the music he/she can't afford.

But yeah, of course we need an additional fee on our broadband connections. Especially after they defined "flat-rate" to mean "less than the data required to watch a single HD-Movie per month" : German Telekom just started rolling out Fibre-to-the-Home in a few cities. 100 Gbit/s, but only up to 200GB; i.e. 60 minutes full speed per month.

Because, you know. Somebody has to pay those 8-digit movie star salaries.

RE: Hooray for broadband fees
By freedom4556 on 1/22/2013 3:33:09 PM , Rating: 2
100 Gbit/s, but only up to 200GB; i.e. 60 minutes full speed per month.

Yeah, data caps are false advertising, no doubt about it. I personally belevie that you should be entitled to 100% of advertised throughput for the whole billing period. Of course then the advertised numbers would tank, but at least people would know what they're actually getting. So many take the claims of " up to blah-blah mbps" as meaning that's what they get all the time.

By inperfectdarkness on 1/22/2013 2:50:49 AM , Rating: 2
Get on board with a Netflix-esque model, or accept the status-quo will continue. I would HAPPILY pay $20/month to have unlimited downloading of movies/shows/music. Price it much over that, and piracy will remain a problem; many people will opt out.

This explains a lot.
By LastDance on 1/24/2013 10:57:32 AM , Rating: 1
This is why we need copyright reform. We are creating a nation of takers through piracy, and hurting industry that normally does well regardless of economic conditions. People act as though legislation on copyright is out of the blue. It's not. Copyright has been around since the US was created. In fact updates to copyright, such as the when VHS recorders came out are common. We need to fix copyright now, so that we as, Americans do not lose our creative edge.

I call B.S.
By Beenthere on 1/21/13, Rating: -1
RE: I call B.S.
By MindParadox on 1/21/2013 6:59:35 PM , Rating: 2
Dunno man, maybe not music, but I buy a shit ton of movies, altho never before pirating it(I don't buy crappy movies, but I bought nearly 300 last year after pirating every single one) and I'm not alone, almost everyone I know is like that

RE: I call B.S.
By Motoman on 1/21/2013 7:27:18 PM , Rating: 5
No, that's actually been a common theme for years. I absolutely believe that pirates buy more legal content than non-pirates do.

I also am perfectly aware that all claims of "losses" due to piracy are complete BS. I'd wager that at least 99% of all pirated content is not a lost sale...if there wasn't a way to get that thing for free, the pirate just simply wouldn't have it.

RE: I call B.S.
By sixteenornumber on 1/21/2013 8:42:40 PM , Rating: 2
I bought ~20 digial copy songs last month. How many did I pirate? Zero! Why? Because 1, its too easy to buy it 2, they now offer music with more than 128kbps.

I thought about trying to download one of those crap copies of the hobbit because for some reason they played it in my local theater a month after the world wide release. Let play adds all the time that a good movie is out then not release it in your country until later...

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).

RE: I call B.S.
By piroroadkill on 1/22/2013 4:43:22 AM , Rating: 1
Nah, it probably is true. If you don't know about the music, movies or TV you want, how do you know what you might want to buy?

For example, I watched all of TV show, downloaded, then immediately bought the DVD boxset just for the sake of having it, and a book about the show. I have no intention of watching the butchered 25fps sped up version on DVD, but I have it anyway.

I bought Oblivion, but downloaded it while it was coming in the post.

Infact, other shows I've also bought after watching them.

I'm sure this isn't isolated..

RE: I call B.S.
By bigboxes on 1/22/2013 7:52:05 AM , Rating: 1
There's Gomer! Glad you made it to the party. It can't be a discussion on file sharing if the mouthpiece of the RIAA/MPAA didn't make an appearance.

worth and punishment
By daboom06 on 1/21/13, Rating: -1
RE: worth and punishment
By rpsgc on 1/21/2013 7:12:17 PM , Rating: 2
And the follow-up to that is educating people on the difference between "stealing" and "copyright infringement".

RE: worth and punishment
By tayb on 1/21/2013 7:25:03 PM , Rating: 3
And after that we'll discuss why treating "piracy" as theft would actually benefit downloaders and make it impossible for the MPAA/RIAA to continue their anti-piracy legal crusades.

RE: worth and punishment
By arazok on 1/21/2013 8:59:46 PM , Rating: 2
No, the answer is to accept reality and view digital content as free. It has zero value, and should be legally shared, copied, or distributed, for free.

The content producers can make their money by making it easy to obtain that content in an easy way. iTunes, Netflix, etc are providing free content in a simple way that people will pay for. That’s where the value is, and is what people pay for. Personally, I rip lots of media via torrents, but I still have Netflix and iTunes because for some things, they are just easier to deal with. I don’t see why everyone can’t be happy with that arrangement.

Content providers should also be free to implement DRM or any other technologies they want to use, but the market should determine which of those technologies succeed or fail. The government and the courts have no place in creating or enforcing any laws around digital files because it simply isn’t needed, and is unenforceable anyways. If you can't produce a product that sells how you want it to, change the product or adapt to how it sells. It's as simple as that.

RE: worth and punishment
By tayb on 1/21/2013 9:34:50 PM , Rating: 5
What a crock. If digital content has zero value why do you bother downloading it?

RE: worth and punishment
By TSS on 1/22/2013 11:45:18 AM , Rating: 4
That's about the only part of his post that makes sense though. It can be replicated infinitly, without loss of quality. Anything digital is no longer scarce, and thus no longer has any value.

Gold wouldn't have any value either if we could make more by running it through a computer and hitting ctrl+c, ctrl+v.

Now you could use labor as a definition of value and it definitly would count for the first copy, AKA the masterfile of a movie with a budget of $100 million is worth $100 million. But pressing ctrl+c, ctrl+v doesn't cost any labor at all, infact you can have a script make copies automatically. So by that definition as well, none of the copies have value and the copies are exactly the same as the original, thus that has no value as well.

So you're left with emotional value for digital media. But even there, the content doesn't have value. First off it's highly subjective, what you like might not be what i like and thus it might not have any value to me, or even less then nothing as i might feel the effort might've been wasted on a paticular piece of content.

But even if you like a piece of digital content, how you procure it doesn't change anything about your emotional state while consuming it. Meaning if Gone with the wind means alot to you, wether you watch a legal or illigal version (which you couldn't tell apart if somebody didn't tell you anyway) has no impact on the actual value of the content.

Thus the only conclusion you can make is that it doesn't have value. The fact that we're willing to spend $200 million making a movie which in the end has no actual value, is insane, but no less true.

So in the end people will have to gate content in order to make money off it, in areas where that's impossible like movies we'll simply have to settle for less. Meaning movie budgets of $50 million instead of upwards of $100 million for example. But in areas like games where you can lock off acces to multiplayer via a account based gateway, money can still be made, which companies have realised thus the rise of the free to play model. Singleplayer games are still screwed though.... i haven't seen any big single player productions without atleast co-op in a couple of years, atleast not at the rate they used to be released.

I agree with the OP, the keyword there is Service. People will pay for service, rather then the actual content.

The rest of his post doesn't make sense though. You can't argue digital content should be free, then argue DRM should be allowed. Free also means free of rights.

RE: worth and punishment
By arazok on 1/22/2013 2:43:48 PM , Rating: 3
You don’t understand. The file, and the contents within them are worthless. I understand how people have a hard time seeing it that way – I’m downloading it for a reason – but the reality is that once created, the cost to increase supply (infinitely) is zero. To deny this is to deny how the market works, and the fundamental idea behind free markets is that the market self regulates. It is doing this now – despite piracy, content producers, distributors, are seeing massive growth in digital sales. The market has found a way to be profitable by offering services like iTunes which serve no purpose but to make it easy to obtain music. People don’t pay for things they can get for free, but they do pay for convenience.

Simple supply and demand dictate that the value of something in infinite supply is likely to be zero. If I invented a replicator from star-trek tomorrow, the value of everything in the world would instantly plummet to nothing as we would have in infinite supply of everything (except energy to power it). I can replicate digital content. By it’s very nature, the moment it was created, it’s value drops to zero.

Laugh all you want, but we should treat digital content the same way we treat fruits and vegetables. Farmers make money growing tomatoes (creating content), which we can all go and purchase from the store (iTunes), or grow ourselves (copy/pirate). Why do most of us pay for something we can get for free? We do it because the convenience of purchasing it is worth saving the effort of obtaining it for free. Pirating is a pain in the ass for most people – as is growing a tomato. People pay for the convenience, not the product.

The government doesn’t allow farmers to copyright tomato’s and punish those caught growing them. They don’t need to. The market has found a solution that works for everyone. We should allow the same for digital media.

RE: worth and punishment
By tayb on 1/22/2013 5:11:15 PM , Rating: 2
No, you don't understand. What you're doing is ignoring most of the definition of the word value and focusing on the monetary aspect only. I value my wife. That does not mean I am pricing my wife no matter how amusing that may be. Value, by definition, also includes the regard you hold for something.

Value creates demand. You value music so you download music. You like listening to it. You like singing or dancing to it. You value these things and if you didn't you wouldn't be downloading. You don't value the artist so you don't compensate the artist. You've acquired value but you've paid nothing to acquire it.

You're other examples are ridiculous. Farmers don't create fruits and vegetables... those things naturally occur on this planet. Without artists music would not continue creating itself. Without farmers apples would continue to grow just fine.

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.

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