Survey: small-scale piracy is common & accepted

A new piracy study has revealed that consumers are relatively accepting of minor content theft, though not too fond about the government or telecom companies messing with their Internet if caught.

The American Assembly has revealed results from its “Copy Culture: Infringement and Enforcement in the U.S.” survey, which asked everyday consumers pointed questions about digital theft, copyright enforcement and the new Stop Online Piracy Act.


The survey, conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, found nearly three-fourths of young adults aged 18 to 29 admitted to illegally downloading movies or music. Surprisingly, more than half of respondents also agreed there should be small fines for busted pirates.

Other possible consequences were posed to respondents. None proved popular.


Over 70 percent frowned on cutting off a pirate from the Internet, and 75 percent said no fine should exceed $100 per piece of content. The study pointed out that despite the actual fine for copyright infringement topping $150,000 for each offense, under 1 percent believed that figure was fair.

In 2009, Joel Tenenbaum was ordered to pay $675,000 by a jury for pirating 31 songs. The damages were later greatly reduced to the still-considerably high $2,250 per song. This past April, he was still fighting in court to see the massive fine slashed to just $30. The most recent update for the legally beleaguered Tenenbaum was more bad news. He announced at his blog Joel Fights Back last month that an appeals court had actually reinstated the original verdict.

Sharing content with friends and family was common for respondents. The vast majority seemingly failed to equate burning movies or music with blatant piracy so long as it was relegated to those two groups. On the contrary, only 16 percent said uploading content to the Internet for strangers to grab was acceptable.


Describing the anti-piracy proposal SOPA to respondents as “ISP blocking that also blocks some legal content,” the group found 57 percent of those surveyed were against it. A House Judiciary Committee hearing on the bill is scheduled for today. (via TechDirt)

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