from the of-course-not dept
For years we’ve argued over and over again that stricter enforcement does nothing to slow down or stop infringement. Often it does the opposite — either by making more people aware of the possibilities to infringe, or driving people further underground. The industry insists that it needs stricter enforcement on a bizarre and widely discredited theory that such strong enforcement is effective as an “education” technique. You hear this all the time from entertainment industry execs. They’re so bought into their infatuation with copyright, that they think the only possible reason why people don’t respect the law is that they haven’t been “educated” enough about it — and what better way to “educate” than to crack down hard?
Except, it never works. It never has and it never will. Increasing enforcement has never — not once — been shown to be an effective long term solution to stopping infringement. It does appear to have short-term effects, as it makes people scatter from actions that are easily trackable, but within a few months (six seems to be about the consensus), file sharing activity tends to find a new path and get back to the same trajectory it was on before.
We’ve now got some more data to support this. A few years back, Sweden passed a very draconian and aggressive enforcement law known as IPRED (Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive), which had the result of a temporary blip in file sharing that disappeared pretty quickly. And now, a new research report has come out showing that just as many 15 to 25-year-olds share unauthorized content online as did so at the time IPRED became law. In fact, a larger percentage of that age group share “heavily,” rather than in smaller amounts.
“We can safely say that the repressive legal developments in this field have very weak support in informal social control mechanisms of society”, says Mans Svensson, Ph.D. in judicial sociology, one of the researchers doing the study. “The social pressure is close to non-existent.”
So why is it that we keep seeing countries pass these kinds of laws? And why do entertainment industry lobbyists keep pushing for them when they’re so woefully ineffective in doing anything positive?