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Germany's Curious Income Divide On Infringement Remedies: High-Earners Support Content Blocking, Oppose Disconnection

from the copy-culture dept

Recently, the American Assembly released Copy Culture In The US & Germany, a report based on an extensive survey about attitudes and practices surrounding media consumption and piracy in the two countries. (Disclosure: We supplied the design and layout work for the report.) It contains lots of interesting facts, and some very surprising ones—such as more support for content blocking than one would expect given the public reaction to things like SOPA and ACTA. We’ve already discussed one of the important broad takeaways—even more evidence that pirates buy more media—but amidst the smaller details in the survey are several other points that are worthy of a closer look.

First up is a curious trend that emerged in Germany: when asked if copyright infringers should face disconnection of their internet access as a penalty, opinion was roughly split among low-income respondents, while opposition was higher among those who earned more:

Opposition to disconnection also rises sharply with income (which in turn correlates with the propensity to buy media). Among penalty supporters who make more than €3000/month, 20% support disconnection; 74% oppose it.

Should Infringers Face Disconnection? (Germany, By Income)
As the report notes, this could have something to do with the fact that higher earners also buy more media—though that still doesn’t make it entirely clear why this should be the case. Even more curiously, high-earners were more likely to support content blocking by ISPs, search engines and social networks, but still more likely to oppose internet monitoring.

It seems like there’s a lot of room for conjecture as to what these patterns mean, if anything, so I’m throwing this open to our readers, especially those in Germany: what social, economic or other factors that correlate with income might explain this trend?

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Comments on “Germany's Curious Income Divide On Infringement Remedies: High-Earners Support Content Blocking, Oppose Disconnection”

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Anonymous Coward says:

“what social, economic or other factors that correlate with income might explain this trend?”

I’ll take a crack at this.

Lower income people may not have Internet at all, and thus don’t care much about people getting disconnected.

High-income people don’t care so much if they get content for free. They can afford it. But getting disconnected would be very inconvenient for them. Some of them might even mildly want to get content for free, but not at the cost of their Internet. So, if it’s filtered at some other level, they’d be satisfied with just accessing whatever gets around the filter.

crade (profile) says:

Perhaps lower income people are more inclined to have other priorities take precendence for them over copyright issues and therefore have invested less thought and research into this issue. I think it takes a certain amount of interest and digging into the issue before one realizes there is more to it that the standard media talking points.

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:

Education/class issue?

Since earnings tend to be highly correlated with education levels, is it possible that’s where the trend comes from?

Those who have gone to college, especially those having gone to college in the last ~20 years since the internet and sharing started becoming pervasive, may be less in favor of disconnection as an option. They’re more likely to telecommute and need access for their jobs. More likely to get more of their entertainment via the internet, as opposed to traditional broadcast media.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Education/class issue?

I’d also favor education/class as a big factor, although for additional reasons.

In my experience, the higher individual education the more likely people I know are to think about things beyond what immediatly affects them. Like the consequences of internet shutoff to some accused copyright infringer and the tremendous collateral damage that would do. They are also more likely to be well informed on the general three strikes style enforcement and it’s contradiction to “in dubio pro reo” as fundamental basis of German law.

Higher education also gives a better understanding and recognition for the dangers associated with monitoring in general – and therefor an opposition to it.

The better acceptance of content blocking is something I’d explain with the correlation of income and age – management or teamlead roles etc. are well paid and usually later in your career. Older people are on average less savvy with technology and most problems with content blocking are of a technological nature. Thus, the higher income bracket, while better educated, might still believe the image of ‘clean blocking’ the media propagate.

Anonymous Coward says:

Some more conjectures:

I think jobs has a lot of say in the disconnection issue. The more you have used IT in information sharing contexts at your job, the better you know its potential and importance! Jobs taking computer-skills are usually well paid or wellpaid jobs demands computer-use.

On the flipside, the higher earners will also include more people with a “competitive fairness” opinion. Since Germany is highly regulated, blocking any sites operating on other less respectable terms can therefore be seen as acceptable.

When it comes to privacy, it is pretty clear that the man monitoring others will be more inclined to dislike being monitored as opposed to those being monitored every day!

Anonymous Coward says:

i would have thought that the reasons for going down this road was because the high earners can afford to pay for faster connections and VPNs whereas the lower earners perhaps cant. the possibility of being caught in a law suit for the higher earners would be slim and as a fine would be the probable judgement, they would be able to pay it if necessary. if disconnection is the answer, it is going to be directed towards lower earners who are more easily caught, not having the level of protection available to them and then taking the heat away from the high earners.

Eponymous Coward says:

While it's a challenge to pull a cultural insight from one chart...

I think these high earners have a better skill set at leveraging opportunities and tools to maximize their income, and thus they view the Internet as an asset. While the low earners lack this skill set, so potentially view the Internet as a medium for entertainment. Thus to the low earners it may appear not that much different then cutting off someone’s cable tv. Obviously this is all conjecture on my part, as an American I offer no particular insight into the German culture. I would be curious about the level of engagement with the Internet, and style of use, both groups have. I’m sure such data would better reveal where these views come from. I do find it ironic that the group that stands the most to gain from an Internet connection is also more prone to advocate its termination. Then again, as I stated, this is a group that lacks the awareness of, or the skills to leverage, the potential in an Internet connection and such ignorance shows in such opinions.

Anonymous Coward says:

I think the difference is in the image. On the one hand, you have a pro-active organization actively working to maintain control of their product. On the other hand you have a lazy organization who puts the responsibility and risk of infringement on the very consumer likely to pay them.

I think this shows that people of an economic level sufficient to make them a regular consumer , concede that an organization has certain rights, but also certain responsibilities. Likely being people who work hard for their luxuries, these individuals respect the idea of wanting to be paid for work or services or products rendered. But, to get those rights, the organization has responsibilities. Pro-actively targeting file sources paints the picture of an artist fighting to protect something made of their own two hands.

However, putting the responsibility of sterilizing one’s habits on the consumer creates a change in value. The risk of losing what is likely considered a basic utility akin to water or power creates a change in value. The cost of compliance goes up as well. Who is this company to tell you that because you clicked a link on some random website on 3 separate occasions, you are now unworthy of so much as glancing at the web? If the link is so dangerous, why do they let it stay up? If they are monitoring you, they clearly know about it. Now the consumer has built up the idea that they are an ignorant bystander caught in the crossfire. Like buying a DVD from a convenience store only to have the FBI break down your door and arrest you for infringement because the store owner was selling bootlegs. Worse yet may be the reasons for why you downloaded something to begin with. Your CD is old and broken so you download a backup off pirate bay. You’ve tried over and over to find a certain tv show online, but the rightsholder has set up geographical blocking and doesn’t offer in your area. One of your friends in another country sent you a link to something they think you’ll like. Something you might have even gone out and bought the next day.

TL:DR = It comes down to who is getting hit. Higher income consumer’s understand a rightsholder’s right to protect their work, but do not appreciate being spied on or threatened. And most importantly, if something isn’t being offered, don’t get upset when people find another way…

Anonymous Coward says:

I think it’s maybe more of what I’d call a cognitive factor that most results in these kinds of graphs. That’s what I’d call it anyway. A great many people I talk to regularly about subjects that tech dirt often covers simply don’t care if its not something that will directly affect them or those closest to them. So it doesn’t surprise me that the less people are able to pay to consume media, the less they actually think about the issues involved and the more likely they are to split on an issue like this, rather than have strong, informed opinions.

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