Dutch Youth Addicted to BitTorrent

A recent survey conducted by a Dutch current affairs TV program looked into the downloading habits of the local youngsters - with some noteworthy results. While the legalization of marijuana in The Netherlands results in less usage compared to neighboring countries, the liberal download climate has quite the opposite outcome.

Two weeks from now, Mininova will be in court facing the local anti-piracy watchdog BREIN. In a report dedicated to the upcoming trial, the TV program EénVandaag asked 3500 Dutch youngsters aged between 12 and 24 years old about their download behaviors.

The results were presented earlier this week and they were quite remarkable. A massive 93% of the surveyed respondents said they download music, movies or games from the Internet, while only 5% of this group of downloaders actually uses a paid service like iTunes.

Downloading copyrighted music or movies for personal use is not prohibited in The Netherlands, but uploading is. In most cases this means that using BitTorrent to download copyrighted music is not the best choice, since it generally requires uploading. However, this is not holding any of the Dutch youngsters back, so it seems.

BitTorrent was by far the preferred file-sharing (download) application according to the survey. More than 45% of the downloaders said they use sites like Mininova and The Pirate Bay to download the latest music and movies. Usenet came in second with a respectable 15%.

Aside from looking into their download behavior, respondents were also asked to predict the outcome of the Mininova trial. Only 15% thought that BREIN will come out the winner, while 45% thought Mininova would strike up a victory. The remaining 39% knew too little about the case to make a useful assessment.

There are of course many flaws in this type of survey. First off, respondents were recruited through online forums and even highly tech oriented communities such as Tweakers. Among these tech savvy and active Internet users the percentage of P2P-users is undoubtedly higher than average. Secondly, the survey was promoted as a “download” survey, this will of course attract the attention of those who actually download more than those who don’t.

Polls and surveys can be very misleading, especially when they are ill constructed. What we can conclude from the Dutch survey, although carefully, is that The Netherlands has quite a few active BitTorrent users and that they are confident that Mininova will beat BREIN in court. Let’s hope that a similar survey among lawyers would reach a similar conclusion.

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