According to a new study just released in the UK, one of the biggest causes of copyright infringement is a lack of choice. The study further shows that one third of the Brits have downloaded copyright infringing content, or plans to do so in the future.
This claim, published in the 2008 Digital Entertainment Survey (pdf), is only reiterating what has been said many times before , that trying to promote the artificial scarcity is what is fueling piracy.
In total, 70% of those who admitted to piracy agreed that “legal sites just don’t have the range of illegal ones” (try looking for Beatles tracks) whilst almost as many said they would pay for downloads, if what they wanted was available. This is probably also one of the main reasons why half of the BitTorrent downloads are TV-shows.
The fact that one third of the UK citizens can be labeled as a pirate is thus a signal that these customers want something that is not available through other channels. It’s more about availability than the fact that it’s free.
On top of the availability issue, 68% of the respondents who have downloaded copyrighted content indicate that the illegal alternatives are more convenient, because they can get what they want much faster.
In addition, the report shows that anti-piracy campaigns are not very effective. To the possible despair of industry bodies, however, 68% believed that that are very unlikely to be caught downloading, showing that slogans such as ‘You can click but you can’t hide‘ are understood as intimidation rather than a promise.
With a motion having being put forward, requesting the information being used to identify and prosecute filesharers, and judges getting annoyed with the methods used in these cases, the chances of being caught are steadily declining.
If there is anything the Entertainment Industry should take from this report, it’s that they should move with the times, and start releasing their back catalogs for sale, rather than let someone else do it for free.