New study sheds light on online 'copy culture'

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New study sheds light on online 'copy culture'

New study sheds light on online 'copy culture'
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photo credit FlickR/liferfe

A new study by the American Assembly, a non-partisan research centre at Columbia University, brings fresh insights into what the authors call the internet “copy culture”. Among other findings, the survey discovered that file sharers buy more music than non P2P users.

The survey – one of the most comprehensive of its kind and funded by Google – analysed data gathered from a sample of over 3,000 people in the US and Germany.

Its findings are striking: 46 percent of US citizens and 45% of Germans have “copied, shared or downloaded for free music, movies, and TV shows”. This figure goes up to 70 percent when looking at the under 30-year-olds in both countries.

However, only a fraction of the sample said that they “got most or all of a large collection [of music, movies, TV shows] this way”: two percent in Germany and three percent in the US.

File sharers buy more music than non P2P users

Contrary to what the anti-piracy lobby and the entertainment industry are saying, the study shows that “P2P file sharers, in particular, are heavy legal media consumers”. In the US, they buy approximately 30 percent more digital music than non P2P users, while, more generally, “there are no significant differences in buying habits between those who copy or file share and those who don’t”.

The line between right and wrong has not yet disappeared either. If sharing movies and music with relatives is viewed “by large majorities [70-80 percent] as reasonable behaviour,” facilitating online file sharing is seen as reasonable by only an average of 13 percent of surveyed netizens.

Sharing with friends triggers more nuanced views, with the support in the under 30s dropping among older groups.

Freedom of expression, privacy, more valuable than copyright enforcement

Only a small majority (52 percent in the US, 59 percent in Germany) give “clear support for penalties for unauthorized downloading”.

In the wake of bitter legislative fights over so-called anti-piracy laws such as PIPA and SOPA, the study notes “copyright enforcement is viewed favourably by majorities in both countries until it conflicts with other values such as freedom of expression and privacy”.

Eventually, the study found that 61 percent of Germans and 48 percent of US citizens would “agree to pay a small broadband fee to compensate creators in return for legalised file sharing”.