Survey: Most Italian Internet Users Think Ignoring Copyright Harms Publishers, But Not Society As A Whole
from the hearing-from-the-other-side dept
One of the heartening recent developments in the world of digital copyright is that we have moved on from manifestly biased surveys about the evils of piracy and how the solution to everything is harsher punishment for infringement and longer copyright terms, to independent analyses that seek to understand rather than judge and lecture. There’s also been a new focus on learning what the public thinks might be an appropriate balance for modern copyright — something that nobody cared about in the past.
Here’s an example of the latter from the Italian lawyer and academic, Simone Aliprandi, building on work done for his PhD thesis. It’s a survey of the attitudes of around 1,300 Italian Internet users to copyright, which explores a number of interesting — and controversial — areas (original in Italian). For example, it asked whether Italians online think copyright law trumps the rights of users who wish to use existing materials as a jumping off point for further creativity. Here’s what Aliprandi found:
The first of the two questions shows a rather unbalanced distribution [of answers] tending towards disagreement, with 41% in complete disagreement and almost 30% in partial disagreement, which means that more than 70% of respondents were not in agreement with the idea that copyright must be respected even at the cost of limiting new ways of making use of content.
Another key question probed what respondents thought about the harm, if any, that using copyright material freely caused:
sections offered various statement about the real harm caused by the widespread practice of using copyright material freely. The first, which can be summarized as “this phenomenon damages mainly the creators”, saw a nearly symmetric response, from which it is not possible to deduce the overall view of respondents, who show themselves divided equally between those who agree and those who disagree.
By contrast, the second [statement] shows a net imbalance of replies, with more than 70% of respondents who agreed with the idea that this phenomenon mainly damages the publishers. When instead the statement “this phenomenon damages the socio-economic fabric” was posed, the replies are distributed in a mirror fashion compared to the previous question, with almost 65% disagreeing.
This mirroring is one of the most interesting pieces of information to emerge from the research: basically, respondents are saying on the one hand that they are aware that using copyright material freely harms the publishers more than the creators, while on the other hand they don’t agree that this causes damage to the socio-economic fabric (an assumption that forms the leitmotiv of almost all the campaigns against so-called “piracy”.)
The rest of the research provides other interesting information about the attitudes of Italian Internet users in this area, and it’s a pity it’s unlikely to reach a wide audience in its original Italian. Nonetheless, it’s a welcome addition to the growing library of such reports from around the world that provide insights into what the forgotten stakeholder in the copyright debate — the public — really feels, does and wants.