Online pirates police themselves

Jul 17, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- People who illegally download music, films and TV episodes do not believe they are doing anything wrong, said a Queensland University of Technology researcher.

Media and communication researcher Dr Stephen Harrington is conducting a study to find out what people who illegally downloaded files thought of their behaviour in an effort to discover how best to police it.

He said the interim findings revealed some interesting trends, chiefly that downloaders did in fact police their behaviour.

"I wanted to find out how they rationalised it - why they did this when they knew it was illegal," Dr Harrington said.

"During interviews, these 'pirates' all said they didn't believe what they were doing was wrong."

Dr Harrington said the downloaders justified their behaviour by having their own rules and limits.

"They said 'I will download some things but I will not download an album from an artist I really like'," he said.

"They said they would not illegally download the music of small-time or Australian artists - they would buy those albums.

"Some also said they downloaded music just to sample it before committing to purchasing an album, or they may download episodes from a TV show not available to watch or buy in Australia."

Dr Harrington said the results proved illegal downloading activity was far more complex, and less sinister, than previously thought.

"There are ads which equate illegal downloading with stealing handbags and cars, but the people I interviewed did not think that copying an item online was comparable to stealing a physical object from someone," he said.

"There are statistics on what piracy costs , but these are only estimates which may be based on the flawed assumption that if people were not downloading files for free they would be buying them instead.

"That is not necessarily true. In fact, there is evidence that people who download spend more money on media than other people."

Dr Harrington said there were more effective ways to deal with illegal downloading than suing individuals.

"We need a system to give people more legal access to the files they want," he said.

"A suggestion has been for internet service providers (ISPs) to funnel some of the money they make through people using their monthly download bandwidth back to the artists whose work is being downloaded."

Provided by Queensland University of Technology (news : web)

Explore further: Texas OKs most new history textbooks amid outcry

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Trouble for iTunes in France?

Mar 15, 2006

France hopes consumers will use legal software to covert digital content into other formats by forcing companies including Apple to comply via revised digital copyright law.

Virgin Media and Universal launch music service

Jun 15, 2009

(AP) -- Virgin Media, the cable TV operator owned by entrepreneur Richard Branson, launched a new kind of music download subscription service Monday with Universal, the world's largest music company.

Recommended for you

Study identifies why re-educating torturers may not work

Nov 21, 2014

Many human rights educators assume – incorrectly, as it turns out – that police and military officers in India who support the torture of suspects do so because they are either immoral or ignorant. This ...

Research helps raise awareness of human trafficking

Nov 21, 2014

Human trafficking –– or the control, ownership and sale of another human being for monetary gain –– was a common occurrence centuries ago, but many believe it doesn't exist in this day and age and not in this country.

User comments : 18

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Bob_Kob
not rated yet Jul 17, 2009
i will only download something in retufution to something that cost so much money i must get it back
defunctdiety
4.8 / 5 (5) Jul 17, 2009
"...discover how best to police it..."

You don't police it, you make it an asset.

"...the flawed assumption that if people were not downloading files for free they would be buying them instead..."

QFT

"...people who download spend more money on media than other people..."

QFT

"...there were more effective ways to deal with illegal downloading than suing individuals..."

Perhaps completely change the music industry business model to get rid of the rediculous overhead seen in major labels, and actually justly compensate an artist for their work?

Oh wait this is already happening with the presently occurring independent label music explosion. See ya, you crook corporate label f***ers!!
Velanarris
5 / 5 (3) Jul 17, 2009
I find it very amusing that many artists determined this fact long long ago. Those very same artists have enjoyed massive profitability by removing the RIAA and MPA from the loop and providing their wares as a "you pay what you want for it" model.

Trent Reznor made more money releasing an album online for free than he ever did selling it through stores for two reasons:

1) he trusted that his fans would pay a fair price for the work he had done.
2) he used an electronic medium to release his wares, and offered NO lower limit restrictions on payment.

This has subsequently been repeated by many artists, all with a very positive result for the people actually performing the work of creation.
WhiteJim
5 / 5 (4) Jul 17, 2009
My view on this is that most people who download a song or video will NOT buy it if they cannot download free for many reasons.

People with the money and disposition to buy will tend to buy it just the same regardless if it can be downloaded freely.

The industries that are up in arms over this is not seeing the forest for the trees. Free downloading is an oppotunity to make even more money than would be the case selling these things to the few people that would likely buy in any event.

Fire your lawyers and hire some creative marketing people to figure out the many ways to let these people download for free and make money from many more people in other ways than the price tag on a disc.
dirk_bruere
5 / 5 (5) Jul 17, 2009
I don't pirate anything that I would ordinarily buy. Right now I'm going to watch some crap movie on a Chinese site, but there's no way I would *ever* pay to watch it. Ditto music. In fact, it was listening to pirate music that led me to buy albums from Therion and Rammstein.
mattytheory
5 / 5 (6) Jul 17, 2009
i think this is just the beginning of the end for the music industry middlemen. since computers are so cheap nowadays it is easy for emerging artists to record and mix their own music (imagine that, DIY?!? i guarantee people like britney spears and the backstreet boys would never have gotten off the ground if they didnt have their corporate execs to sell their shit for them). if an artist is good enough people will come to them. for once, we can let actual supply and demand prop up or bring down artists, instead of using sex to sell everything.
Velanarris
3 / 5 (6) Jul 17, 2009
for once, we can let actual supply and demand prop up or bring down artists, instead of using sex to sell everything.

You don't use the internet much, do you?
Galilean_Cannonball
5 / 5 (2) Jul 18, 2009
I'd be happy to pay a fee via my ISP for downloading copyrighted material. At the moment if I wish to obtain a movie I go through Amazon: buy the DVD have it shipped to my place, watch it and then shelve it. I don't really need the DVD, some of the extra stuff that comes with it is useful - I will sit through the Director's Commentary if it's a good movie, and by that I mean the movie is more than just entertainment -, but usually I watch the movie and that's it.
It's illegal to download copyrighted material I get that and I don't assume it's my right to do so just because the copyright holders charge exorbitant amounts, it's their right to do so anyway, literally!
But some of that power is now in my hands because I can get what I want without their permission, which gives me some leverage, but they have the law on their side so the point is pretty much moot.
I seems to me that Corporate Music is fighting a rearguard action, and they don't seem able, or interested, in changing their business model, but they will have to, the new generation of the creative class isn't that interested in doing things the old way, so things will change, but that change can only come at the expense of those in the middle - Corporate Music - so they will fight it, but they will lose, and in the mean time, until someone comes up with a better way to ease these dinosaurs out, it will continue to be a battle.
visual
5 / 5 (2) Jul 18, 2009
Music, movies, porn, games are all really different kinds of animals, and need different ways to handle piracy.

Pirating music is really the easiest to solve and turn into an advantage. I, like possibly many other people, wouldn't do it with stuff that I like and listen to a lot, but I would still do it with unknown stuff to try it out before possibly buying.
Thus, the industry can gain a lot by actually making it easier to explore new music for free, exchange tracks with friends or online groups with similar interests, etc. and provide a way for fans to support the artists directly with whatever sums they decide.

This can work for music because a lot of people really listen over and over to the same type of music, they are real fans of it and are proud to show off their support to the artists, not only by paying for their music or by donations but also by going to multiple tours and concerts, buying various merchandise like t-shirts, cups or whatever.

But music is not the only thing that is pirated on the net, and this tactic would really not work at all for other things. I know very few movies for example would get watched more than one-two times by the same person, so there isn't the same kind of enthusiastic fan-artist relationship and a model based on free distributions and voluntary donations is a bit unlikely. Still, I would be curious to see someone experiment with something similar.
I can imagine a site that offers free downloads of movies but also rates these movies by the average amount that downloaders decided to pay after that. People that really liked some movie downloaded through it would understand that they would be hurting it if they don't rate it high by paying, which might stimulate them to pay more.

Games may require a completely different approach, counting on the online multiplayer services that they work with.

And porn is most definitely beyond any hope of defeating piracy, but I get the feeling that the studios actually don't mind it and view it as an efficient advertising.
MorituriMax
not rated yet Jul 18, 2009
I admit, I have pirated Microsoft Office for myself and my parents. I don't make any money from using it, I don't sell it, not even to make back the cost of the media I copied it to.

If they make it an online subscriber service like I have heard they will do, I'll subscribe to it.
docknowledge
1.6 / 5 (7) Jul 18, 2009
Go to a jail. Every criminal has a justification for why they did what they did.

They are still criminals. Surprise.
docknowledge
1.8 / 5 (4) Jul 18, 2009
MorituriMax.

I paid for my Microsoft Office. Thanks for raising the price for me. I know you don't see yourself as doing wrong. But in fact, you cost me money. Gave me nothing in return.

A problem here that we should recognize is that our modern Internet culture doesn't even provide a firm basis for understanding when wrongdoing happens. Are you a bad person, MorituriMax? I bet that in person I'd think you were not. Yet there is inequity, here.

I paid, you did not.

The Internet culture must stop believing that it is too hip to follow laws. Companies that operate in areas where the law has not had time to catch up must be federally regulated as soon as they reach, say, an annual income over $500,000.
aphemix
3 / 5 (2) Jul 18, 2009
buying music is like tipping your waitress. You don't have to do it.
Velanarris
5 / 5 (2) Jul 19, 2009
MorituriMax.



I paid for my Microsoft Office. Thanks for raising the price for me. I know you don't see yourself as doing wrong. But in fact, you cost me money. Gave me nothing in return.



A problem here that we should recognize is that our modern Internet culture doesn't even provide a firm basis for understanding when wrongdoing happens. Are you a bad person, MorituriMax? I bet that in person I'd think you were not. Yet there is inequity, here.



I paid, you did not.



The Internet culture must stop believing that it is too hip to follow laws. Companies that operate in areas where the law has not had time to catch up must be federally regulated as soon as they reach, say, an annual income over $500,000.


Wow, ok Orwell.
MorituriMax
4.7 / 5 (3) Jul 19, 2009
dockknowledge wrote



Go to a jail. Every criminal has a justification for why they did what they did.



They are still criminals. Surprise.




dock, dude, think on this.



What I downloaded was a copy of a copy of a copy.



The copy cost me x amount of money to download, store and burn to disk.



Now lets assume the price for Office that I am looking at is about $350 bucks. Do I have $350 bucks to spend on it? No? Okay so I don't buy it.



Does THAT make the price go up for you? If I never buy it at all? What's the difference between me not buying it because it costs way more than an open source version of Office, OpenOffice.



If I download the OpenOffice instead of buying MS Office does THAT make the price go up for you? Why not?



Or, if I buy a PC instead of a Mac. Does that mean the price of the next Mac -YOU- buy will go up because of me?



To put it simply, don't hang the price going up on me, me making a copy because I can't afford it isn't any different than not buying it at all.



Call it rationalization or simply mark it up to the difference between someone stealing an actual real-life car which someone had to build with real materials instead of electronically making it out of ones and zeros on magnetic media.



On a related note, aren't we all getting ripped off by the music industry when they sell us mp3 songs which have been compressed by eliminating stuff we can't hear (most peoples ears can't tell the difference) according to them. Even though we get a stripped down compressed electronic copy of the actual song recorded by the artist, they never get sued by "stealing" that part of the song from us.
MorituriMax
not rated yet Jul 19, 2009
sorry about the spaces, this page adds em when you edit, and I didn't catch it in time.
Velanarris
5 / 5 (2) Jul 19, 2009
Actually, to Morit's point.

If he copies office off of a friend, now all the documents he produces are in office format, driving the other people he knows to obtain office. If they have the money, they're going to go buy it. If they don't, they'll look for a copy.

Piracy is a response to what some deem, an unfair abuse in pricing.

When I was a teen I wouldn't buy office. Hell, I don't buy office now, they give it to me so I'll use it and keep the format enforced.

It's "vendor approved" piracy. So all my business' employees, outside of IT, go and buy office.

Funny how that works, maybe that's why MS now has a "Student" pricing of $100.
MorituriMax
5 / 5 (2) Jul 20, 2009
Actually, I think OpenOffice supports import of Office docs.

I guess in a way the strategy Velanarris points out may be working in mine and my parents minds. Mostly mine though, I only stick with Office because I can enhance spreadsheets with VBA and it is a very powerful ability.

In my parents case, if I had started supplying them with OpenOffice from the start, I honestly don't think they would have even cared.

If it is software and I can afford it, I buy it. If I can't afford it but have some personal use for it and I can find a copy online, I'll probably download it. If it gets to the point where I ever make money from any of the programs I download, then I will buy them as well. 'Tryware' as it were.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.