Study Shines Light On How Americans Feel About File Sharing

Americans oppose the use of disconnection and rate-limiting as penalties for illegal file sharing, according to a new survey from Columbia University research center, the American Assembly. With the support of Google, researchers Joe Karaganis and Lennart Renkema commissioned a public opinion survey about copyright enforcement attitudes and how consumers obtain media. The results may surprise you.

Interestingly, the “survey suggests users of peer-to-peer file-sharing software buy 30 percent more music than those who do not use peer-to-peer software,” reports Ars Technica. And the issue of “morality” in file sharing has much to do with distinctions between public and private sharing, says the report.

“Eight in 10 Americans believe that it’s OK to share copyrighted content with family members, and six in 10 extend the same logic to friends. But only a small minority of Americans — between four and 15 percent — say it’s reasonable to upload copyrighted content for public consumption, post links to pirated content on Facebook, or sell unauthorized copies of copyrighted materials,” explains the article.

Meanwhile, 53 percent of those surveyed think search engines should be required to block links to pirated music and videos online.

“The survey provides some limited support for the view that file sharing promotes, rather than hinders, legitimate music purchases,” the article notes.

The average American on a peer-to-peer network (P2P) has about 2,000 songs, 38 percent of which were obtained legally. Those not on P2P networks have an average library of 1,300 songs with about 45 percent obtained legally.