New Study Shows Many Artists Think File Sharing Helps, Not Hurts

from the especially-younger-artists dept

With the Dutch government introducing draconian anti-copyright policies, the government also decided to survey musicians, and the results were somewhat surprising. Many, many artists did not think that file sharing harms them, with plenty believing it helped. It appears there was a big age factor in the results — with younger artists being much less concerned about file sharing than older artists. Only 28% of artists asked believed that file sharing hurt them financially. And slightly over half of artists surveyed claimed that file sharing helps them build an audience by getting their work more widely known.

You would think, then, that this would push back against the government’s new copyright policies, but apparently, it does not.

Of course, some will also point out that even though these artists claim that file sharing isn’t harming them and that it’s often helping them… the majority still believed in DRM and stricter enforcement against infringement. That seems like a bit of a conundrum, and it appears the government basically just focused on this latter point, rather than the earlier points. But, it’s really not too surprising. If you ask someone: do you want a government-granted monopoly privelege and/or a method for limiting competition, many will say yes. Even with empirical data that they’re better off without it, it’s difficult for people to give up government protectionism… But that’s no reason to just grant such protectionist policies. It makes sense to see if a sugar monopoly actually benefits the overall production of sugar in a country. It does not make sense to ask the sugar monopolist if they need a sugar monopoly.

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Comments on “New Study Shows Many Artists Think File Sharing Helps, Not Hurts”

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Greevar (profile) says:

It's a huge mistonception.

It’s a misconception, by many people in government, that copyright is necessary to provide, for the artists, a system that protects a model for making revenue on selling copies of cultural symbols. It’s also misunderstood that selling copies is the only model there is and it must be protected.

What they repeatedly fail to realize is that labor is needed to create art and labor can be paid for, which is easily protected by law. Labor is also very hard to steal. Whereas copying is not easy to restrict and easily performed, regardless of legality. If they would focus on the labor side of art as their business model and accept that the copying side is nothing but advertising for their labor, then they would realize how pointless and impotent copyright really is.

The people that really need copyright to exist are the publishers, who don’t perform any labor in the creation of cultural symbols and then try to extract revenue from the potentially infinite copies that can be made without any additional labor cost to them. So, to return to Mike’s question from his other article we should ask, “Do publishers deserve copyright?”

Nom du Clavier (profile) says:

Re: Are you reporting on a report in DUTCH that YOU CAN"T READ

As a native speaker of both Dutch and English, the report does actually say that. Even without speaking Dutch fluently figure 5.1 pretty much speaks for itself.

Speaking of making stuff up, can you tell conclusively that Mike does not speak Dutch, or did you just assume he doesn’t to underscore your lack of a point?

John Doe says:

Re: Re: Are you reporting on a report in DUTCH that YOU CAN"T READ

I should have made it clear with a question mark at the end of

“Are you reporting on a report in Dutch that YOU CAN’T READ”

that I was not 100% sure he can’t read Dutch.

But since Mike is an English speaking California-native with no European accent, the odds are 100-1. I would take bets (at 10 to 1), but one could Google it.

There is also a possibility that there is an English translation of the report that neither he nor Torrent Freak linked to.

No, I did not read the report and I don’t need to since I am not reporting on it.

It’s good to hear that your cult leader was able to accurately report on the unread report without making any mistakes. Us normal humans can’t do that.

Bad, cheating students try to write book reports all the time without reading the books.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: *facepalm*

How the hell does a Cliff Notes version of Jane Eyre have anything to do with writing a report on it?

Seriously? If you’re going to doubt the report at least have more of a basis than “it’s because he’s not Dutch”.

He reported on the TF report, someone here responded to you and you go on to say that we’re cult followers for someone else’s report with analysis. Bravo.

Tell you what, how about showing an American report that does the same thing…

Oh wait… I can’t find any data on that

John Doe says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Are you reporting on a report in DUTCH that YOU CAN"T READ

If you turn in a book report for a book you haven’t read, can’t read, you FAIL. End of story.

I am sorry, but giving a kid an F for writing a book report on a book he has not read is a NOT personal attack, it’s the right thing to do.

John Doe says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Are you reporting on a report in DUTCH that YOU CAN"T READ

I think this is a translation of the report’s executive summary into English, but it does not look like the official source. I cut and pasted the first four paragraphs from

Online piracy artist study: Summary
The opinions of publishers, producers and consumers concerning copyright in the digital era are fairly well-known.

Relatively little is known, however, about the opinions and experiences of creators and performers. This report fills that gap. It turns out that most creators and performers abidingly value copyright, traditional business models and collecting societies.

Data for this study was collected through a survey sent out in the fall of 2010. More than 4.5 thousand respondents, representing a broad range of creative professions, age and income groups, completed the online survey.

Generally, digital distribution and commercialisation is perceived as a threat rather than an opportunity. Most respondents are fearful of unauthorized downloading of copyright protected works and think that action should be taken against both consumers and file sharing websites. Hardly any creator shares own work on file sharing websites. An equally small minority appreciates reuse (remixing and sampling) of their work by others. Reuse is by many even perceived as a potential threat of income. A considerable part of the respondents endorsed the use of digital rights management (DRM).

continued at:

Here is a report from someone who read at least the summary before writing his report:

Nom du Clavier (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Are you reporting on a report in DUTCH that YOU CAN"T READ has pretty much the same conclusion in its summary as Mike’s summary, so to link to it in defense of your slamming of Mike’s summary is a bit… well, let’s call it weird.

Let’s see:
“There are however many artists who indicated that they are not affected, and many who welcomed free sharing of material as it helped them in their careers.”


“`Generation 2.0? primarily sees opportunities in digital developments, file sharing and remixing. Creators and performers of Generation 2.0 are relatively young and hardly feel financially threatened by digital developments.”


“Reuse is even perceived by many as a potential threat to income. A considerable part of the respondents endorsed the use of digital rights management (DRM).”


Mike’s summary mentioned all of these. Maybe you don’t like that he came to a different conclusion. Given that it’s evident he did read the report or a translation, since he uses the same data as the report you link to in defending your opinion that he didn’t, all that’s left now is for you to acknowledge you were wrong and that your initial (and followup rants) were uncalled for.

Just so you know, book reports and F’s for not reading them not being personal attacks, calling someone a cult leader is. Perhaps now you know this you can avoid the mistake in the future?

Nom du Clavier (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Are you reporting on a report in DUTCH that YOU CAN"T READ

The point is that regardless of whether or not you personally can or cannot read something, it’s still a double standard to expect someone to have done so if you haven’t.

If you then also criticise them for not having read it, even as you didn’t do so yourself, that just up-ends a tray of eggs in the vicinity of your head.

And certainly you can make the argument that Mike as a reporter has a larger responsibility than you do when it comes to having the facts, him being the reporter, you the consumer of the story.

In turn I’d say that we all have a responsibility to check what we hear or read before taking something as fact. Otherwise we just might end up with egg on our face as we try to convince someone else of something.

And really, if your problem in general with reporting is a lack of truth, might you not better picket the Fox News HQ? They’re far more deserving of ire on that score.

John Doe says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Are you reporting on a report in DUTCH that YOU CAN"T READ

Just tell your teacher or professor that she or he can’t fail you for handing in a book report on a book that you haven’t read, because it’s a “double standard” if the teacher did not read that book. lol (ok, the laughing is close to a personal attack)

Than change the subject that others (Fox News maybe) cheat so I should also be allowed to cheat.

John Doe says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Are you reporting on a report in DUTCH that YOU CAN"T READ

It?s not hypocritical at all.

Mike wrote a report on a report he did not read.

I did NOT write a report on a report if I did not read.

If I or anyone writes a report on a report/book/paper they did not read, it?s wrong.

It would only be hypocritical if I wrote a report on something I did not read AND claimed it was OK to do so.

I hope this clarifies the meaning of hypocritical to you, but I get the impression that you just throw around words like hypocritical as a personal attack and you don?t care about meanings (which, IF TRUE, would make you a hypocrite since you claim to be against personal attacks.)

Nom du Clavier (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Are you reporting on a report in DUTCH that YOU CAN"T READ

To clarify, it was hypocritical of you to categorically state that Mike didn’t read the report (or a translation) and saying he assumed a lot of things, when, you yourself assumed he didn’t. It was then revealed later, by your own links to bolster your initial argument no less, that Mike must have read the report in question.

The hypocrisy was thus in saying it’s wrong for Mike to make up stuff out of whole cloth, but in doing so making just as big an assumption. I could clarify the meaning of the word further if you want?

Nom du Clavier (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Are you reporting on a report in DUTCH that YOU CAN"T READ

One last comment on the matter.

Your original position in your first comment on the post can be summarised like this: Mike, you didn’t read the report, made a lot of assumptions, and then wrote about it. Assumption this, assumption that, ass you and me.

Never mind for a moment that the link you provided to a summary of the report which you say counters Mike’s summary proves the exact opposite, even though the focus was a bit different the stated facts were the same. Never mind that that very same link shows that Mike must have read the report or a translation.

When you boil things down to the essentials: you call Mike out for making a big assumption and then running with it, facts be damned. What do you do? You make a big assumption and run with it, facts be damned.

Whether or not you’re going to admit you were wrong is up to you. It must be quite clear to everyone else by now, and I have more important things to do.

Nom du Clavier (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Are you reporting on a report in DUTCH that YOU CAN"T READ

p.s. Ad Hominem attacks are no substitute for cogent arguments. I thought I’d point this out to you, just in case nobody mentioned this to you until now.

p.p.s. If this was pointed out to you before, I hope you’ll take this as a friendly reminder.

Hope that helps.

Anonymous Coward says:

Some call them “gatekeepers”, some “publishers”, some “labels”, etc., but it seems to me a much more accurate term is “financiers”, i.e., those who raise the capital and handle what is generally the “non-content” side of their respective industries. In the theatrical/movie industries they are known as “producers”, the ones who either put up their own money to support a project, or who pound the pavement looking for investors for a project.

ROI is important, and their constant villification seems misplaced.

Changes in technical tools that enable the reduction of production costs are, of course, a good thing. This is not lost on producers, and to suggest otherwise by referring to them as “dinasours” is as a general rule inaccurate.

Of course, as production costs decrease more groups are able to enter into the market and vie for the attention of consumers, and this is a good thing. More product means more consumer choice. As these new products enter the market, it is only natural that price competition comes to the fore.

Now, it is not at all surprising that many “artists” hew to the view that widespread distribution via so-called “piracy” is a good thing for getting their names before the public. However, I have to wonder how many of such “artists” are the ones actually taking the financial risks. A business truism is that “it takes money to make money”. When someone is not the one putting up the money, it is not at all surprising that their views on the subject of “piracy” can diverge from those who are paying the production bills as they come due.

Greevar (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Oh, I get it. They’re “artists” because they aren’t a part of the majors of the industry and don’t have gobs of money to throw around, so their viewpoint has no merit? Am I right? The producers are some sort of altruistic entity that puts their own heads on the chopping block so it’s justifiable to treat them as special to the rest of the working world? You put about as much effort into canonizing these people as other put into demonizing them.

Those artists that support the idea of “piracy” do so because they know that’s not where their money comes from. They realized that it comes from the people that go to their performances, buy their merchandise, and patronize their services. That’s why they agree with it, not because they’re some ignorant group of people that have never known the risk of putting millions of dollars on the line in hopes that it will give back more in return.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

What you seem to believe I said or implied in my comment is incorrect. Without “artists” (a generic term covering a wide spectrum of industries) there are no “products” to take to market. This is no different in the high-tech industries. Intel would not get very far if its entire engineering staff one day simply up and left. Support personnel could leave, and the company just might stay in business…though it might limp along for awhile, but certainly the converse is not true.

It bears mentioning, as I noted in a comment above, that one should never underestimate what some of the “majors” might do if their ROI starts really going down the tubes.

Greevar (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

But all of this is wholly reliant on the concept that you have to be able to sell and control copies to make money from cultural symbols. That is simply not true and, by that fact, exposes the flaw in the pro-copyright argument. They are all just grasping at a chance to hold on to their beloved, and unnatural, easy path to profit. Publishers can’t reliably operate their business model as it exists today without the support of copyright, but that’s not what copyright is for and it shouldn’t be used that way. As I’ve said many times in the past, as well as Masnick and others, copyright’s core purpose is to get people to make more cultural symbols (a.k.a. art), not to secure payment for it. It says as much in the US Constitution.

It remains apparent that copyright hinders new works because of “chilling effects” and legal restriction, which works against the core purpose of promoting more works. If people are allowed to create without restriction, they will do so because it provides self-direction, autonomy, and mastery of a skill they enjoy. Free open-source software makes that concept quite plain.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 of the US Constitution (sometimes referred to as the “Copyright and Patent Clause) provides:

To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries

If I may take the liberty as a lawyer to present the clause in a manner that presents it using present day vernacular, I would translate it to read:

To encourage the dissemination of knowledge for the benefit of educating the public, Congress is autorized to enact legislation affording authors and inventors who disseminate such knowledge the opportunity to secure exclusive rights in their respective writings and inventions for limited periods of time.

Is there an economic dimension to this? Of course. Hence, there is an indirect relationship between the clause and economic opportunities afforded to authors and inventors who may choose to secure such rights.

Granted, there has been a sea change over the past 222 years since the clause was first introduced in the area we know as copyright, though it is appropriate to note that much of the change, though certainly not all, resulted from the incorporation of European principles in the pursuit of the international harmonization of copyright law, with the elimination of formalities and extension of copyright terms being the most notable.

Interestingly, and in clear contrast to copyright law, patent law has remained relatively stable and much closer to its original constitutional roots and the first Patent Act enacted in 1790. While the length of a patent term has expanded and contracted over the years, even today it is not markedly different from what was originally enacted in 1790.

Importantly, my translation of the Copyright and Patent Clause can be easily picked at since I have used relatively loose language in the interest of simplicity, but I do believe it is close to capturing the essence of what was intended by the constitutional provision.

A point that may merit discussion is why has there been such a wide divergence over time that continues to grow between patent and copyright law? I must admit that the cynic in me suggests that Congress can more easily comprehend the subject matter of copyright law than it can the subject matter of patent law. I long ago decided that the primary difference between the direction these bodies of law have taken is that copyright law is perceived as being for the benefit of “men of letters”, whereas patent law is perceived as being for the benefit of “greae monkeys”, or “white collar” versus “blue collar” if you will.

Greevar (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Yes, there is potential for economic incentive implied in that clause. Although, it is not explicitly stated as such. Potentially, this was intended to provide an array of options for which an author would accept as just compensation for the permission to copy works or posses copies of works. To include language that mandates the transfer of monies for access to works would severely limit the author’s choice as much as the recipient of the works.

Nevertheless the key motivation for this clause was to promote the creation of more art and knowledge for the enrichment and education of the public. The question remains whether this goal has been satisfied by the current incarnation of copyright. I believe that it hasn’t. I also don’t think it can, not with a monopoly.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

I also don’t think it can, not with a monopoly.

I can certainly understand your view, which is shared by many.

If it is any consolation, there are three things that in my mind help to temper the situation.

First, any work to which copyright pertains is is competition with a wealth of other works.

Second, while it is difficult to ascertain where an idea and where an expression diverge, there is benefit that results from the idea/expression dichotomy, and it is the ideas that underlie learning.

Third, and perhaps most important, the Fair Use Doctrine plays a pivotal role in balancing the interests of authors under copyright law with the interests of the public under the First Amendment.

FormerAC (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“ROI is important, and their constant villification seems misplaced.”

Unless you’ve actually read the history of some of the record labels, then the vilification feels accurate.

Record labels, and record executives, have a long and well documented history of stealing directly from the artists, of replacing the name of the composer/writer with their own name, and not paying the artist the royalties that are owed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Good post, though putting artists in quotes…? 😉

They are being called dinosaurs because they have been and still are failing to adapt to reality, fighting every advance that comes down the pike with litigation first, negotiation second, financial ruin third, and running to the government for stricter laws because the stricter laws they got before aren’t working to stop reality.

Financiers (good word) will always have a place, of course, but that place is changed now. Many artists realize that taking advantage of change is better than fighting it. Artists may still need financiers, but they also have more leverage by adapting to what’s happening today. Financiers prefer what was happening 15 years ago.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I must agree with your assessment that “artists” (which I place in quotes because it covers a wide spectrum of creators in diverse industries…e.g., musician, actors, screenwriters, etc.) are beginning to get leverage that was largely unavailable before because at times cost was prohibitively expensive. New technology provides them the opportunity in many instances to “go at it alone”, though even then, as noted in another article today, it can be a very difficult undertaking in terms of labor that has to be expended.

BTW, I call the “gatekeepers” financiers after observing the role of “producers” on Broadway. I was surprised to learn that the role is basically that of a CEO/President of a company. They review script submissions until they come out of their ears, they approach various actors to solicit their willingness to participate, they meet with a host of possible investors to secure needed money, they hire all persons needed to pull off a production…with a director being one of the key persons, make financial arrangements with theaters, work with ad agencies, etc., etc., etc.

This is, obviously, no small task, and my learning about the role they play was a real eye opener.

Yes, some financiers still live in the past, but like anythig else market forces will cause the large players in these industries to adapt. Unfortunately, I have no doubt that some of the ways they adapt may prove to be more upsetting to their critics than the roles financiers currently perform. For example, it is not beyond the pale that movie studios may attempt to overturn a longstanding antitrust limitation that prevents them from owning theaters. While I do not know if it is presently the case in the majority of situations, it seems a reasonable prediction that they may try to exert influence over concerts, sales of ancillary items, etc.

I understand all the economic points repeatedly made here, but if there is one immutable rule in economics it is the Golden Rule that whoever has the gold makes the rules.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

In the sense used here, there is a “monopoly”, as that term is defined to encompass anything where a federal statute grants exlusionary rights to an individual, group, or company.

In the sense used in law, “monopoly” is generally defined as a person, group, or company that has sufficient power in the relevant market to control consumer pricing.

I am merely saying that in the case of a “monopoly” as defined here, it is useful to note that a work is almost always in competition with other works for consumer dollars. Even though the works may all be secured by copyright, the existence of copyright is generally irrelevant.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: not all obviously...

I am fairly confident you will see freetard criticisms start to pop up on Monday.

“What an idiot…it is not theft!”

“Hey, if the pirate sites are making money, then all she needs to do is change her business model to garner part of the revenue stream.”

“It’s her responsibility to use the DMCA, and no one else. It is too burdensome on them.”

“Due Process, First Amendment…can’t she read the Constitution?”

Unfortunately, in their knee jerk rhetoric they will fail to listen to the underlying message.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: not all obviously...

Who Profits from Piracy?

Seriously? You’re going to rely on Ellen Seidler’s long debunked crap? For all the time she spends misunderstanding how the internet works, she could have spent time actually *building a reasonable business model.* She failed, and now she blames Google for her own failures.

The rest of her claims about how “big” the business is are laughable for a few reasons. First, if it was that big of a business, than why doesn’t the movie industry set up its own site to do this? Because they know damn well it’s not that profitable.

For example, look at, whose operator was arrested recently for linking to infringing tv and movies. Part of the claims against him was that he was one of the biggest sources of these things. How profitable was it? He made $90k in 5 years. Less than you’d make on minimum wage. And that doesn’t even take into account his costs in running the site.

Furthermore, the vast majority of file sharing does not take place on any for profit sites. The claims that it does are pure ignorance.

She brings up “Google advertising.” What she doesn’t point out is that people doing file sharing and watching movies DON’T CLICK on Google ads for the most part. Google’s not making money. The sites with those ads aren’t making money. We have Google ads on our site and they make us very little. On those sites, where people aren’t even looking for text content, no one’s clicking those ads.

The whole thing about how cyberlockers are making money for providing faster speeds is true, but that’s A SERVICE which has nothing to do with file sharing.

Seidler sees demons where there are none. And she does it because she refuses to put in place a smart business model and can’t accept her own failures. It’s sad.

Sorry, but this is not convincing. It also has nothing to do with this particular story. Not sure why you’d post it here.

Fact is, I know plenty of indie filmmakers who I talk to regularly, and they say that piracy has no impact on them whatsoever. Obscurity is always a bigger threat than piracy, and they’ve put together smarter, better business models so that piracy doesn’t hurt them.

If Seidler did that, she’d stop worrying about the big bad Google.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: not all obviously...

First, if it was that big of a business, than why doesn’t the movie industry set up its own site to do this? Because they know damn well it’s not that profitable.

Not profitable enough for them, profitable enough for a one-man operation with almost no costs.

(…)people doing file sharing and watching movies DON’T CLICK on Google ads for the most part. Google’s not making money. The sites with those ads aren’t making money. We have Google ads on our site and they make us very little. On those sites, where people aren’t even looking for text content, no one’s clicking those ads.

I wonder if you can back up that claim. Comparing it with your own blog is misleading if not wrong. Very different audience. I fail to see why a rapidshare or whatever sharing site visitor would click less than any other site. A lot of these people aren’t especially computer literate.

Sorry, but this is not convincing. It also has nothing to do with this particular story. Not sure why you’d post it here.

Well, I think she has valid points, as opposed to your arguments. I post it here, because the article is called “New Study Shows Many Artists Think File Sharing Helps, Not Hurts” and this is one that doesn’t think so… Who “debunked” it and where?

Fact is, I know plenty of indie filmmakers who I talk to regularly, and they say that piracy has no impact on them whatsoever. Obscurity is always a bigger threat than piracy, and they’ve put together smarter, better business models so that piracy doesn’t hurt them.

Mind to give some examples?

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 not all obviously...

Link to a little info on my part

Those three studies help to form a much more balanced picture.

It’s a lot more telling when in the first five seconds Ellen Seidler pulls out the rhetoric about “piracy apologists” instead of getting into the issues.

She has no empirical data backing her up, she has a lot of weak links to a group data.

What’s also rather telling is how she says “Well, there is no 1:1 loss of sale data” when that is exactly what she describes. It’s rather dishonest of her.

No one can describe lost potential income better than Notch (Minecraft), who has said that you can’t chalk it up to just looking at downloads. What is the reason that the pirates offer a better product? What reason would someone in Saudi Arabia want to download an American show?

There’s plenty of reasons someone might download from a cyberlocker, and it isn’t just piracy. Perhaps the show isn’t available to them. Maybe there’s a lot of cultural differences. I dunno, but Ellen sure doesn’t seem to want to find out.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 not all obviously...

One more thing: If these sites are really making no money, if no one is clicking, why are all the ads there in the first place? And please tell me: why are they running these sites? For the good of humanity

Lots of people do those things because they think it’s fun. Seriously. You think everyone who’s sharing unauthorized files is doing so for money? People are doing so for reputation in a lot of cases.

And I’m sure *some* people click, but I would guess that the $ made probably — at most — cover the cost of the servers.

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