Anti-Piracy Campaigns Fail, People Keep Downloading

For as long as Internet file-sharing has been considered a problem, copyright holders and their respective anti-piracy groups have been mobilizing with campaigns they hope can reduce the phenomenon. Despite the efforts, downloading continues unabated. Against the law? One in four in Denmark certainly don't.

During the last decade anti-piracy campaigns have taken many forms. Warnings running on the beginning of a DVD, for example, are fairly straightforward and to the point – “don’t copy this, it’s illegal”, they said.

Other approaches, such as the super high-profile and aggressive litigation campaign pursued by the RIAA in the United States, tried to send the message that financial ruination is the inevitable result of sharing music files.

The movie industry’s MPAA tried a “we’re looking over your shoulder” angle with their Internet-only ‘You Can Click But You Can’t Hide’ campaign which was designed to reinforce the notion that file-sharers are not anonymous and can be held accountable.

Untold other campaigns from a myriad of anti-piracy groups followed, from educating kids in schools and persuading boy scouts to take a copyright awareness badges, right up to trying to convincing the public that there is a human consequence to sharing files. Creators everywhere will starve, entertainment will come to an end, and this dark future can only be avoided by buying media instead of downloading it, they cautioned.

Like their counterparts in other parts of the world, Denmark’s Antipiratgruppen have been working tirelessly with anti-piracy activities of all kinds during recent years as they desperately try to discourage people from downloading media from the Internet. In common with similar campaigns from America to Asia, the end results are largely the same – they have failed to reduce the overall numbers of people sharing files.

That’s according to a new survey conducted by YouGov Zapera on behalf of publication MetroXpress. Carried out during the first week of August 2010, the survey consisted of interviews with a representative sample of people aged between 18 and 74 years old.

When questioned, 23% of respondents said that they had the ability to find and download music and movies from the Internet. In 2009 that figure was 20%. When it came to music alone, 27% of respondents said they had downloaded from the Internet. In 2009 that figure was 24%.

Troels Møller from pro-piracy group Piratgruppen said that the lack of progress comes as no surprise.

“The advertising campaigns used to prevent illegal downloads have been a waste of money and have in general been a cop-out from the record industry,” he told MetroXpress. “They try to give people a bad conscience about something that there is nothing wrong with. Because you are not stealing from anyone. On the contrary, you are sharing with others.”

Bente Skovgaard Kristensen, who is responsible for copyright issues at the Ministry of Culture, says that the problem of illegal downloading is massive.

“The unchanged position on the course of piracy shows that there is a problem,” she admitted in a response. “Because the scope of copyright violations on the Internet is so large the Government has appointed a committee to look at how to deal with the issue. They report back with their findings later this year.”

The only area where opinion was slightly improved was in that concerning legislation. In 2009, 31% of respondents said that they felt copying of music and movies should be made legal. This year that figure dropped to 30%.

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