Every other month a new survey pops up, and they all seem to draw the same conclusion: millions of people worldwide download files from filesharing networks such as BitTorrent – and they don’t think this is morally wrong.
Most recently, Ovum researchers surveyed a large group of broadband Internet subscribers who also own a TV, and polled their video download habits. The video trends survey found that nearly one third of the respondents watch illegally downloaded video. Because music and software wasn’t included, it is safe to say that the overall piracy rate among broadband subscribers is even higher.
Most people do not download copyrighted videos on a regular basis though. The survey found that only 4% of the total sample admitted doing so. Interestingly, two thirds of the sample – including the ones that never download illegally – didn’t see it as morally wrong. This discrepancy between the perceived morality and the legal status lies at the core of the ever increasing piracy rate.
Despite the continuous efforts of the anti-piracy lobby attempted to change the public’s attitude towards piracy, without much success. The infamous “You wouldn’t steal…” campaign is a prime example of such a failed campaign. There hasn’t been much of a change in the attitudes of the public. Instead, TV and movie insiders themselves have regularly made fun of the strategy.
For several years the entertainment industry has ignored the endless possibilities the Internet has offered them, while striving to preserve their outdated business models. Thereby they ignored the cause of the problem. The rise of illegal downloading is clearly a signal that customers want something that is unavailable through other channels.
So, should sharing copyrighted material be legalized? Not per se, but the entertainment industry should focus on monetizing filesharing networks instead of bringing them down. The movie industry has said many times that it treats piracy as just another competitor, so one day it will hopefully see that sharing is not only a good thing but also an unstoppable thing – with a multitude of profit-making possibilities attached to it.