Useless Studies: Given The Choice Of No File Sharing Or No Internet, Guess What People Choose?

from the what-do-people-do,-not-what-they-say-they'd-do dept

A study by Entertainment Media Research claims that 72% of file sharers would stop file sharing, if sent a letter by their ISP threatening to cut them off the internet. This, obvious, supports the entertainment industry's effort over the past couple of years to get ISPs to act as their enforcers. It also ignores the fact that the EU has rejected such three strikes policies as a violation of users' rights. If someone puts a gun to your head and tells you to do something, plenty of people will probably do it, but that doesn't mean that it's right. Furthermore, what the study is really asking is, which of these two scenarios is preferable: no file sharing or no internet (which, by definition would mean no file sharing). Guess which people are going to say?

Unfortunately, results like this just mean that the industry will probably keep up its campaign to push for ISP enforcement, rather than actually coming up with better business models that embrace file sharing as promotion and a natural part of the market. They'll claim, of course, that this shows such an "educational campaign" will be effective -- ignoring the implicit "gun-to-head" part. However, as we recently discussed, there's little to indicate that the educational campaign has actually succeeded at all over the past decade, and there's little to believe that letters from ISPs will really be particularly effective in the long run. In a survey, of course people will say that they'll stop the activity to avoid getting cut off the internet. But that won't be because they think it's right or are comfortable with it. So the second a new, more secure or more underground method of file sharing comes along, they'll jump on that as well. If the entertainment industry wants to keep pursuing three strikes rules by promoting delusional studies like this one, that's it's choice, but it won't get the industry any closer to solving its business model problems.

Filed Under: entertainment industry, file sharing, studies, three strikes

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  1. icon
    PaulT (profile), 14 Oct 2008 @ 1:33am

    Re: P2P simply less relevant

    You're missing the point, I think. For each of those services you mention, P2P came first. Perhaps it's true that P2P usage has reduced when people have an alternative, but P2P came first to indicate the demand for these services. Remember, the music industry's initial reaction to the MP3 player was not to offer a download service but to try to ban it, and there's many stories of them being very unhappy with iTunes' pricing system.

    All of those services you mention are also very flawed - most are not available outside the US, VOD and PPV usually have pretty restricted catalogues (and come as a premium on top of a monthly sub) and many people are not happy with the quality of the goods offered (e.g. every time iTunes comes up on an internet forum, someone will always complain about the lack of lossless formats).

    In other words, it's still trying to force people to buy what they want to sell, rather than listening to what people want. Even if the traffic stats you quote are true (it's the first time I've heard them if so, but quite interesting), P2P traffic is still a huge amount of traffic. For everyone who downloads an album from iTunes, there are others who download from P2P for many reasons, ranging from wanting to preview the album before buying, to audio quality or DRM, to iTunes being too expensive, to either the album or iTunes itself not being available in their area. The industry needs to work on that, and has shown itself time and time again to be unwilling to do so unless forced to compete with P2P.

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