by Mike Masnick
Tue, Aug 28th 2007 12:22pm
Given the entertainment industry's obsession with claiming (often in a misleading way) that unauthorized use of copyrighted content hurts all the "everyday" people in the industry rather than the big stars, you would hope that people in the entertainment industry capital of the world, Los Angeles, would be concerned about the problem -- but it appears that many are not. A new study suggests that one in four Los Angelinos bought, copied or downloaded an unauthorized product. Now, that includes things like counterfeit handbags as well as downloading music. However, it's a self-reported study, so it wouldn't be crazy to suggest that these results are much lower than reality, as many people probably wouldn't admit to downloading when asked point-blank. No matter what the number is, Justin Levine uses this study to kick off an interesting discussion comparing such actions to breaking the speed limit. His point is that most people have a general sense of fairness. If they're breaking the speed limit, it's often because they actually think the speed limit is too slow. If speed limits were raised, some people would still speed, but it would be a smaller amount. Alternatively, if the speed limits were lowered, more people would likely break the speed limit. If you swap that analogy back to downloading, Levine notes that it seems like this study is only going to be used by officials as a reason to "crack down," or effectively "lower the speed limit." In other words, trying to crack down on the problem is only likely to make it worse -- which is pretty much exactly what we've seen over the past decade.
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