New Study: 70% Of People Find 'Piracy' Socially Acceptable [Updated]

from the you-can't-combat-that dept

I've pointed out time and time again that I don't, in any way, condone unauthorized file sharing. I don't participate in it, and I don't think people should do so, though I certainly understand why many do. Instead, I talk about recognizing two things. First, such unauthorized downloading is here and it's happening and there's little likelihood that it's going away, so your best bet is to figure out how to deal with it, rather than just bitch about it. Second, once you come to realize that, you can often come up with much smarter, better, more effective and more profitable ways to make money by embracing what your fans want. And, yet, I'm still told that I'm "the world's biggest piracy defender" who "only wants to rip off musicians." And, recently, I was told that it was particularly pernicious of me to suggest that content creators recognize that piracy isn't going away.

However, it looks like even more data is supporting that position. TorrentFreak points us to a new study coming out of Denmark -- where the entertainment industry has been extra aggressive in trying to "crack down" on unauthorized file sharing and to "educate" the public on why such activities are wrong. And, yet, the study shows that 70% of people still find unauthorized downloading to be socially acceptable in some form or another. 15 to 20% say that it's totally acceptable, with the rest saying that it's acceptable within certain boundaries. Where people begin to think it's not acceptable is when it involves downloading the works of others and then selling them. This isn't all that surprising, and fits with what we've seen elsewhere, but it's still interesting to see the numbers.

What's also interesting is that these numbers are almost identical to what a similar study found over a decade ago. In other words, despite tons of money, lawsuits, lobbying, education campaigns, advertising, threats, news reports and the like -- all telling people that unauthorized downloading was unquestionably morally wrong -- it's had almost no impact on people's attitude towards the practice, and the vast majority find it socially acceptable. That certainly suggests that my position has a pretty strong basis in fact. Historically, it's very, very difficult to convince people that something they feel is socially acceptable is morally evil. And that's likely to be true in this arena as well. So why does the industry keep insisting that they can change that basic fact?

Update: Good discussion in the comments digging into the details of the study. It becomes clear that there are very different levels of what the folks surveyed believe is socially acceptable. What it suggests is that only 30% say that unauthorized sharing is always unacceptable, while the remaining 70% is across the spectrum in terms of how socially acceptable it may be and under what circumstances. I don't think that changes the overall point -- but it is good context for the discussion.

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  1. icon
    ECA (profile), 2 Mar 2011 @ 2:56pm


    LETS DISCUSS Justification..

    Do we consider that a Corp can be harmed?

    Do we consider an Alternative to MONEY/GREED exits?
    (i find it funny that we are TRAINED from birth to SHARE everything, and then grow up to find that SHARING is not Politic)

    DOES a virtual GOODS/Product really have VALUE?
    Air is a virtual product.. YOUR HOUSE isnt.
    HOW much do you need to PAY for something that will NEVER expire/run out/DIE/extinguish.

    Copyright laws have changed MANY MANY times over the years, ONLY to the corp side..NOT to releasing what SHOULD HAVE BEEN RELEASED. 'Gone With the wind' SHOULD have been released YEARS ago. but, it is STILL making money for the corps. The Corp sold the RIGHTS to another group, who can sell to another, and another, EACH gets COPYRIGHT CONTROLS.

    There is music that hasnt seen the LIGHT of day that is 30-40-50+ years old, that is MOLDING in a basement vault. The only way to get it is SPECIAL ORDERS. Do the artists get any money? NO! The Artists contract is GONE.

    Is the concept of 1 recording 1 sale, a VALID CONCEPT? it never has been. YOU have always had the ABILITY to sell and trade your HARD GOODS..from records/tapes.. WHY does the CORP think that it can sell 1 recording PER HUMAN, and YOU have no way to give/share/introduce this Item/music/video to OTHERS..

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