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Pew Study: File Traders Don't Care About Copyright 494

An anonymous reader writes "A recent poll by the Pew Internet and American Life Project focused on that portion of the file trading community that is over 18. The major finding is that two-thirds of all file traders in this age bracket are not concerned about violating copyright laws. This remained consistant even when they split up the respondents by sex, income, and race."
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Pew Study: File Traders Don't Care About Copyright

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  • by base3 ( 539820 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @09:22AM (#6599376)
    You mean the death of meaning of the Constitution's language "limited times," effective eternal copyright on software and media, along with excessive laws that provide jail time for what would be a minor property crime in the physical world have eroded respect for copyright law?
    • by murdocj ( 543661 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @09:26AM (#6599399)

      You really think that the average music file trader is an expert in copyright law??? Somehow I think it's more likely that people see other people getting music for free and decide to get in on a good deal.

      • by willis ( 84779 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @09:29AM (#6599416) Homepage
        Yeah, it's almost like "Never attribute to intelligence what you can attribute to selfishness" or something ;)
      • In other news, two-thirds of the population over 18 admitted to copying their friends' cassettes. Most of the non-technical people I talk to that have no problem with downloading music off of the net go back to that.
        • by ahfoo ( 223186 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @11:38AM (#6600030) Journal
          Yeah, I grew up in a household with hundreds and hundreds of copied cassettes. If it wasn't a problem for my parents then why should it bother me? Then there's the library issue. Our local library has thousands of CDs. Do I feel guilty about checking them out and copying them? No.
          Copyright is an exclusive right to control commercial usage and anything non-commercial SHOULD not have anything to do with copyright at all. That is a common understanding of the law. No matter how the law gets twisted by special interests who want to twist the word "commercial" till it breaks, that's what it was supposed to mean and that's how the majority feels.
      • by Surt ( 22457 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @10:29AM (#6599627) Homepage Journal
        You don't need to be an expert on copyright law to feel the effects the abuse of the copyright system has had on our society.

        People may not understand precisely how, yet often they can be quite aware that they are being hosed.
        • Amen! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by A nonymous Coward ( 7548 ) * on Sunday August 03, 2003 @11:01AM (#6599772)
          What is the practical effect of forever copyrights? Lack of creativity. Copyright holders concentrate on protecting the value of their current copyright rather than think up new things to copyright.

          Imagine if Disney had had to keep on thinking up new characters and ideas, instead of the same old mouse and duck. Those would have been retired, new ideas would have come into play, and Disney would stand for new ideas every few years rather than tired variations of the same old mouse products. There would be no incentive for others to mimic the mouse and duck, because it would be so out of fashion, no one would care. Every generation would have their own Disney memories.

          When the same stuff gets repeated over and over, the public just doesn't care. That old stuff becomes part of public history whether it's copyrighted or not, a de facto public domain.

          I wonder if rock n roll is the same ... I wonder if it's coincidence that the trend before rock n roll was for each generation to come up with their own kinds of music sooner and sooner ... ragtime, early jazz, swing .... then rock n roll came along, and has dominated ever since and shows no signs of going away. The Roilling Stones still going after 40 years? Bizarre! I bet if their coyrights weren't still in force, there's be much different kinds of music ruling the airwaves now.
          • Your creativity has not been hurt one bit by the fact that Mickey cannot be used commercially by non-Disney entities.
            • Re:Amen! (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Lemmy Caution ( 8378 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @12:46PM (#6600372) Homepage
              Not so.

              Figures from popular culture are part of our subconscious, both collectively and as individuals.

              I've had dreams with Mickey Mouse in it. I've had dreams in which I was at the helm of the Enterprise.

              If I tried to film an enactment of that dream, I'd be in violation of intellectual property laws. I think the idea that something trumps the free expression of the imagery of my own subconscious is a pretty big crimp on my creativity, or at least my expression of it.

              Pastiche, collage, and montage are vital creative techniques.
            • Re:Amen! (Score:3, Interesting)

              by err head ( 26693 )
              but steve gerber was limited by donald the duck

              "Back in the late 1970s, the Walt Disney Company threatened to sue Marvel Comics over the design of Howard the Duck, which, or so they claimed, was too similar in appearance to Donald Duck. To avoid litigation, Marvel's old management signed an incredibly stupid agreement with Disney. Under its terms, all future appearances of Howard must conform to a set of designs that Disney provided for the character. You've seen this design. It's the one from the black-
          • Re:Amen! (Score:4, Insightful)

            by lambadomy ( 160559 ) <lambadomy@dieWEL ... com minus author> on Sunday August 03, 2003 @12:26PM (#6600287)
            The best part, to me, is how disney animated movies of the last decade are almost always retellings of old, copyright-long-expired stories.

            But anyway...I think that your statement about rock n roll has a lot more to do with the media machine that has existed over the last 60 years than anything else. You see it in all aspects of society, really, not just music. Also, your statements about ragtime, jazz, swing, don't really take a very long term view of music. How long was what we deem "clasical" music the only game in town? Were people really coming up with all these new forms every 10 or 20 years until rock n roll, the end of musical history? I don't really think so. Plus, have you ever heard of Hip-Hop? Rap? Electronica? Rock n Roll has definitely had staying power, which I think is largely attributable to the aforementioned media machine, but is sure isn't stoping other music. And it's not like The Rolling Stones have a copyright on A, E and D chords or something. I think other bands have been formed since then, without getting sued into the ground for violating the Stones copyrights...

          • Re:Amen! (Score:5, Insightful)

            by 0111 1110 ( 518466 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @01:44PM (#6600666)
            Drug patents make an interesting comparison in this respect I think. I am currently waiting for a couple of different drug patents to expire so that the companies will finally release some of the newer drugs or at least a slightly more effective variety of the same drug.

            There has been some very interesting research that I have been following, but human trials have been put off indefinitely because they see no reason to invest funds into a market that is already very profitable for them.

            One drug patent expires in 2008. I am certain that the next new development will only be released at that time. I am sure this is a common pattern. I realize that pharmaceutical companies need to make money to fund their research. It's just too bad that it's at the expense of future developments because they do not want to start competing with their current cash cows by introducing something new and better.

            I hate to imagine what our drug markets would look like if drug patents never expired. I suspect that pretty much all research would stop on any disease for which we already had at least one treatment. Why innovate if the new patented drug will not sell for any more than the old one? It could even be considered irresponsible to the shareholders to do so.
    • The only thing that's a crime with copyright law is creating anti-copy-protection devices. In the real world it would be like marketing a device that could open any lock.

      Which would actually be totally legal (unless they passed a new law)
    • by takochan ( 470955 ) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <24nahcokat>> on Sunday August 03, 2003 @10:11AM (#6599544)
      Well, lets see, RIAA sets up a cartel, overcharges for CDs (and still does), gets convicted for it, and uses bribed politicians to get out of it with 50 cent coupons for purchase of more inflated priced music.

      RIAA buys more laws with more bribe money not to charge customers to copy the above music 50 cents per violation (like they got away with above), but rather to hit them with multi thousand dollar lawsuits.

      RIAA then buys more laws making copyrights to be infinate in length (effectively).

      Then some wonder why people have no respect for copyright laws as they are now. Uh... why should we? The current laws were all bought and paid for, and represent the interests of 'we the people' in no way whatsoever. So screw them..

      If CD's sold for $5 per disk (which is what they should sell for without all the cartel and payola action), the problem would pretty much go away, as most people wouldn't have a problem buying CDs for that price rather than hassle with looking for downloading them.
      • by Blue Stone ( 582566 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @10:45AM (#6599692) Homepage Journal
        People are used to getting music for free. It's called the radio. Theres just a shift in the ways and means of distributing that aspect of "our" culture.

        Copyright is largely an artificial construct, unlike theft (which certain people like to erroneously and politically link it to.) It's never really existed in any significant portion of our evolution, so (I'd say) it's not really considered a real thing: it's an artificially imposed prohibition.

        If the same principle was applied to food, or furniture, with everyone having their own little Star Trek replicators, people wouldn't respect it then, either.

        Maybe it means: since everyone has their own printing-press, making a significant living from the prohibition of duplication of a work, is nolonger feasible or realistic? Like any number of other professions (starving (visual) artists languishing in obscurity and poverty, anyone?)

        I don't think it's so much about price (though it's always a factor) as people's psychology: copyright doesn't really make sense in a world where things are easily and cheaply copyable; where the means of production and dissemination is in the hands of everyone.

        Is that noise I hear the fingernails of the copyright cartels screeching down the cliff-face of a paradigm shift?

        • Wonderful Idea (Score:2, Interesting)

          People are used to getting books for free. It's called the library. There just a shift in the ways and means of distributing the books.

          Based on your argument that copyright is largely an artificial construct and people don't really buy into the who idea of paying for things that are cheaply copiable, then no one should have a problem with the following.

          When O'Reilly publishes a new book, I should buy it, scan in the pages into an electronic format and put it on the internet for the whole world to copy.
          • Re:Wonderful Idea (Score:5, Insightful)

            by teeker ( 623861 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @02:16PM (#6600806)
            When O'Reilly publishes a new book, I should buy it, scan in the pages into an electronic format and put it on the internet for the whole world to copy. After all, "copyright doesn't make sense in a world where things are easily and cheaply copiable", and all I did was easily and cheaply copy a book.

            Whoa, hold on there. I can see the point you're trying to make here, but your analogy is flawed. Have you ever scanned a whole book? If that's your idea of cheap and easy, then the folks over at Project Guttenburg would like to talk to you. Ripping a CD (or even a DVD) is an order of magnitude easier then scanning an entire book. Especially any book on perl. Can you imagine the OCR software trying to figure out PERL source code?!?
      • Exactly. (Mod this parent up!) $5-7 per disk would be reasonable, even $10 is better than what we're paying now. Think about it: if is charging $8 per album, why isn't the RIAA trying to compete? If tapes cost $10 a pop 10 years ago, why are CDs $15? If CDs are the default technology, why do they cost MORE than what tapes were when they were the default technology?

        Same goes for software and DVDs. DVDs are now the default technology, yet they are higher than tapes. Instead, tapes should
        • by mpe ( 36238 )
          Same goes for software and DVDs. DVDs are now the default technology, yet they are higher than tapes. Instead, tapes should be lower, and DVDs should be the same price.

          If anything tapes should be more expensive, since the manufacturing and transportation costs are higher. Then you have the problem of "duds" not being detected until a customer buys one and complains. With a CD or DVD you have an easy to automate pressing operation to manufacture. It's probably not that difficult to automate removing mis-pr
    • by LaCosaNostradamus ( 630659 ) <LaCosaNostradamu ... m ['mai' in gap]> on Sunday August 03, 2003 @01:22PM (#6600569) Journal
      You hit that nail squarely, sirrah.

      The arrogance and mistreatment coming out of the recording industry, combined with the corrupt actions of the Congress, makes copyrights a game of the elite. Hence, I have as little respect for it as I would have for some fop strutting around America with some European royal title.

      Anyway, grabbing a song off of a site, board or p2p user is hardly a violation of copyright, since (waaaait for it, this is important) I claim fair use. For almost all of the songs I've grabbed, I eventually buy the disc. This is similar to when I zip down my local highway at 70mph, right past the sign that says "SPEED LIMIT 60". I don't care about the technical aspects of law-breaking ... I abide by the spirit of law. Just as a jury member should be doing (ref. the Fully Informed Jury Association), We The People are the judge of the law, not that overpaid, elitist punk behind the podium.

      If the entertainment industry wants me to tone back my claim of fair use, then they should really clean up their act. Taking an MP3 song from some Russian site primarily hurts the industry, not the artists (since in practice I can't hurt the artists more than the industry is doing right now). But I've been hurting the industry for years ... I buy my CDs used for much less than new retail prices. And my CDs seem likely to last me for the rest of my life.

      (But don't think that that method itself is not under threat. I know people who run used book stores, and every so often the book industry makes noises about regulating and therefore taxing them on the sales of their books. I'm sure the used CD industry has been similarly threatened for the same reasons ... the manufacturing industry wants a piece of each sale, not just the first one. Luckily for Lady Justice, the used industry is too unstable and laborious to regulate ... making it singularly pathetic that those are the only things that protect us.)

      As for the Congress ... yes, the Constitution is all too clear about limiting copyrights. But the Congress simply ignored that. Since war has already been declared, don't be shocked when you see me firing shots.

      Soooo ... to the RIAA, I invite you to spend yourselves into debt trying to chase me down. You won't win, because you can't win. Your desire to sit back and collect income (one aspect of the modern American social disease) has cost you all your ability to adapt to social change.
  • News? (Score:2, Funny)

    by arose ( 644256 )
    Windows is insecure? Warez dudes like to crack software? RIAA is evil?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 03, 2003 @09:25AM (#6599395)
    A recent /. study shows that anonymous cowards don't care about karma.
  • The other 33% (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iapetus ( 24050 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @09:25AM (#6599396) Homepage
    It's no big surprise to discover that most people who violate copyright laws aren't concerned about violating copyright laws. I'm more surprised by the other third - do they represent the traders of legal files (new Linux distros, freely tradeable music etc.) or the truly stupid?
    • It's no big surprise to discover that most people who violate copyright laws aren't concerned about violating copyright laws. I'm more surprised by the other third - do they represent the traders of legal files (new Linux distros, freely tradable music etc.) or the truly stupid?

      I don't know, Are only the stupid immoral?
    • Maybe the other third are just hypocrites.
    • I personally read it as two thirds thatdon't give the issue any thought and another third that has some strong opinions on the subject. The other third either try to trade unencumbered media, or think copyright is a distorted shadow of it's original intent, and trade copyrighted files as a form of civil disobediance

      I suppose I should go read the article.

  • Sweet (Score:5, Insightful)

    by autopr0n ( 534291 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @09:26AM (#6599398) Homepage Journal
    Bring on the revolution!

    Seriously though, we live in a democracy, congress gets to set the limits it wants. If life + 90 years is 'reasonable' then so is a day. Copyright protection is a matter of practicality, not morality. If it's impractical in it's present state, then we should change it.

    Note to RIAA: we will dance on your grave.
    • Re:Sweet (Score:2, Funny)

      by syukton ( 256348 )
      Note to RIAA: we will dance on your grave.

      And we shall dance to whatever we happen to get off kazaa at the time...
    • Re:Sweet (Score:5, Informative)

      by chrisbw ( 609350 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @09:43AM (#6599476) Homepage
      Seriously though, we live in a democracy

      Err, actually, we live in a republic []:

      1 a (1) : a government having a chief of state who is not a monarch and who in modern times is usually a president (2) : a political unit (as a nation) having such a form of government b (1) : a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law (2) : a political unit (as a nation) having such a form of government c : a usually specified republican government of a political unit (the French Fourth Republic)
      2 : a body of persons freely engaged in a specified activity (the republic of letters)
      3 : a constituent political and territorial unit of the former nations of Czechoslovakia, the U.S.S.R., or Yugoslavia

      (I hope I didn't violate Merriam-Webster's copyright there...)

      • Re:Sweet (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Tirel ( 692085 )
        (I hope I didn't violate Merriam-Webster's copyright there...)

        I know you were joking, but there is an important distiction here: citing a small part of M-W to explain something is fair use, but distributing it as a whole without a licence is a copyright violation.
      • Mod parent down! (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Snaller ( 147050 )
        "Seriously though, we live in a democracy "
        Err, actually, we live in a republic:

        Why is there always some idiot who spouts this crap!! (And get modded up no less!)
        Not only do a lot of slashdot readers not live in a republic but the words republic and democracy are not incompatible with one another.

        The USA has a presidency rather than a monarchy, that makes it a republic, the government is elected by the people that makes it a democracy (a representative democracy to be more precise). This is not hard to
    • by frdmfghtr ( 603968 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @10:27AM (#6599614)
      Seriously though, we live in a democracy, congress gets to set the limits it wants.

      No, Congress is supposed to set the limits that best serve the public, i.e. what the PEOPLE want. And yes, it does need to be changed. You got the millions of dollars needed to lobby Congress? Neither do I. I do have the power to write to my reps incessantly to make my point heard. (In fact, I think that's what I'll do today...write to my new reps [just moved])

      BTW, "life + 90 years" is NOT reasonable. The copyright law needs to revert back to the 14-year limit, with certain circumstances making that time frams SHORTER. To use everybody's favorite OS as an example, if I want to run Win95 for some reason and MS doesn't sell it anymore, than I should be free as the wind to make as many copies as I desire. It's not as if I'm taking away from their revenue stream, they weren't going to sell it to me anyway. (No jokes about forced upgrade paths, please.)

      The same holds for music, books, movies, whatever. If I want a copy of a book or CD that the original copyright holder/publisher/etc. doesn't make available, then I should be free to make my own copy as I see fit, even if has been less than 14 years since the copyright took effect.

      "Intellectual Property" my ass.
      • by Uart ( 29577 ) <feedback&life-liberty-property,com> on Sunday August 03, 2003 @11:39AM (#6600032) Homepage Journal
        No, Congress is supposed to set the limits that best serve the public, i.e. what the PEOPLE want. And yes, it does need to be changed.

        Yup. You should write your reps if you feel that your are not being sufficiently represented. Unless they know what the people want, they can't do it.

        Why do they NEED to be changed?

        BTW, "life + 90 years" is NOT reasonable. The copyright law needs to revert back to the 14-year limit, ... if I want to run Win95 for some reason and MS doesn't sell it anymore, than I should be free as the wind to make as many copies as I desire. It's not as if I'm taking away from their revenue stream, they weren't going to sell it to me anyway...

        The same holds for music, books, movies, whatever. ...

        I disagree. I like the life + 90, and I think it is very reasonable. Perhaps the post-life extent could be shorter, but 14 years... Tell your favorite author what you want to do to their work -- most authors don't get paid as well as musicians and other artists...

        Anyway, as for your Win95 example, you are hurting their business - Win95 is the ancestor of Windows XP, they would really like you to buy XP -- but if you can get Win95 for free... then they have to compete with themselves, and while they did attempt to make improvements over previous versions, free is a hard price point to beat, especially when many applications will run on either OS.
      • The copyright law needs to revert back to the 14-year limit, with certain circumstances making that time frames SHORTER

        Prepare to see all SORTS of artists going even more starving. I'm an aspiring photojournalist. Guess what all the folks who made it tell me. If you're great, it takes 5 years to build an archive of shots that is going to be able to moderately support you and allow you to start paying off your debts. It's copyright that gives a photographer that ability. If 9 years later those images that
        • If *I* make it, I get to control it until my death. Period.

          OK, I'll grant you that. For the individual, I can see where copyright until death can be a good thing. As has been stated, what is yours is yours. When I said that in some cases the copyright epiration would come less than 14 years, I was thinking cases such as the creator's death. It's hard to hold a copyright and benefit when you're dead.

          The next argument I can see is the income from a copyrighted work supporting the family after the autho
        • If 9 years later those images that I took go into the public domain, I will be forever working to maintain a barely-decent level of income.

          Man, I feel your pain. If I don't go out and work today I won't get paid next week either.
    • Indeed! This is the purest form of democracy, the populace deciding through direct action what is acceptable. If congress won't listen to us, why should we listen to them? All power comes from the people, it's about time we returned it.
  • Whoa!! (Score:3, Redundant)

    by Tirel ( 692085 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @09:30AM (#6599422)
    Copyright violators not interested in copyright?

    What are the chances??
  • Only a minor number of artists give their music away for free, i.e. without restrictions of further distribution.
    Furthermore most really free stuff can be easily downloaded from special websites.

    So, I wonder about these guys who need a poll to get the result that people who are circumventing copyright laws don't care about copyright.
    Usually you would suspect that every person on this planet has something called "common sense".
    Next we'll see from these guys:

    • Thiefs don't care about property.
    • Phyromaniac
    • ummm... Communism is a form of economy and has nothing to do with oppression or dictatorship. What is interesting, or disheartening, about this study is the blatant disregard for the law. The law is the law. It is a cold black and white document that applies to us whether we want it to or not. We know that downloading copyrighted mp3s is illegal, and no matter how we attempt to justify it it is wrong. If you don't like the prices go to and download free music. If you feel that the labels don't des
    • Drug dealers don't care about the health of other people.

      I have pharmacists in my family. Please don't knock the profession.

      Bush invaded Iraq for Oil.

      Are you sure? I seem to recall that the government had evidence that Iraq was getting ready to attack the United States. The forces in Iraq may not have found a smoking gun, but there was still enough evidence to warrant an invasion under the previous United Nations resolutions.

      Communism is a oppressive dictatorship.

      Perhaps as misimplemented by

    • Drug dealers don't care about the health of other people.

      Oh, I don't know about that. Just because someone is providing a good or service for which there is a demand doesn't say anything about whether or not they care about the well-being of their clients. I would imagine the opposite: a drug dealer thrives on repeat business, and therefore wants his customers to live as long as possible.

      The rest of your points are valid, though.

  • I knew it! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Jack Va1enti ( 592636 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @09:34AM (#6599436)
    The cretins are stealing our property in broad daylight. The Boston Strangler of home taping has returned. An erroneous court made the Betamax decision, and respect for copyright has hit an all new low.

    This is why I have proposed to our representative in Congress, Mr. Berman and Mr. Hollings, that copyright violations be made punishable by death.

    A new force will be recruited from among our friends at BayTSP, MediaDefender, and our more clandestine operatives to man squads carrying automatic weapons. These will be authorized by Congress to carry out summary executions against those sharing our property via P2P networks.

    Perhaps this will engender the respect our copyrights deserve.

  • by Phoenix666 ( 184391 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @09:36AM (#6599444)
    But will it mean they're done politically? They've bought an awful lot of politicians in Washington, no matter what our honored lobbiest guest said here a couple days ago. (If Bill Clinton and other top pols show up to a going-away party for Hilary "Wicked Witch of the East" Rosen, I would say they have bought influence.)

    My question is, the media like to talk about how the average person doesn't know what file sharing is and what the issues at stake are, but if there are 60 million people doing it then how can that possibly be true? If one fifth of the population of your country does anything on a regular basis, then how can you seriously claim that they don't understand what that activity is? It seems like so many other ridiculous claims ginned up by journalists like that disgraced NYTimes reporter, and repeated unthinkingly by the rest of the news crowd.

    OK, so if that's bunk, and those 60 million people do understand what is at stake with file-sharing, then why aren't they making themselves heard in the government? Why isn't that anger translating politically? My theory is there is no membership organization they can focus their voice through. If we had something like the AARP or NRA for online freedoms, my bet is you'd start seeing politicians learning to dance to our tune in an awful hurry. (and no, the EFF is not that organization. they do great work, but a membership organization they are not).
  • by millenium ( 689108 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @09:38AM (#6599451)
    ... of the political process, which may be subverted temporarily by injecting enough money, but in the end the political process will always revert to majority rule.

    Therefore, the public *owns* the political process.

    When the RIAA says they want to educate the public about the law, the public may eventually lash back by educating the RIAA about what it means to be at the receiving end of the public's wrath.

    • but in the end the political process will always revert to majority rule.

      The people may control the republic through voting, but the broadcasters control the people to a large extent. TV and radio advertising paid for with campaign contributions from broadcasters seems exempt from FCC "equal time" regulation. MPAA movie studios own all major U.S. commercial broadcast networks except NBC. Get the picture?

    • All your states are belong to us!

  • If Michael say Billy Jean is copyright, Billy Jean is copyright. There is no debate.
  • by BlackSabbath ( 118110 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @09:42AM (#6599468)
    ...for most people.

    In most people's minds, this is a crime in exactly the same sense as going 5 clicks over the speed limit. People just don't even think about it.

    And when they do they just don't think its important. This is the reason that the more the RIAA ramp up the legislation and bully-boy tactics, the more they will get up the nose of Joe Average.

    Everyone agrees that, in the abstract, speeding can kill people, just as in the abstract, people agree that musicians need to get rewarded. However, no-one thinks THEIR teensy, weensy breach will really hurt anyone.
  • well i totally agree with the poll that most people do not care about copyrights et al, but one should not forget that these polls do not reflect the recent riaa attempt to sue everyone and everything that has something to do with down or uploading contraband.
    these scare tactics will work in my eyes, as people will get educated by the laws that are being introduced slowly but surley by the riaa and its henchmen...
    surely a handfull of people wont care and continue and it will take a lot more than a few laws
  • by Freewill ( 538580 ) <> on Sunday August 03, 2003 @09:48AM (#6599489) Homepage
    I'm not implying that the report is incorrect in its conclusion; I do not find the results that surprising. But I am interested in what those of you with more knowledge in statistics have to say about this:

    Quoted from the report:

    This report is based on the findings of a daily tracking survey on Americans' use of the Internet. The results in this report are based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates between March 12-19 and April 29-May 20, 2003, among a sample of 2,515 adults, 18 and older. For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling and other random effects is plus or minus 3 percentage points. For results based Internet users (n=1,555), the margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting telephone surveys may introduce some error or bias into the findings of opinion polls. The final response rate for this survey is 32.7 percent

    The sample for this survey is a random digit sample of telephone numbers selected from telephone exchanges in the continental United States. The random digit aspect of the sample is used to avoid listing bias and provides representation of both listed and unlisted numbers (including not-yet-listed numbers). The design of the sample achieves this representation by random generation of the last two digits of telephone numbers selected on the basis of their area code, telephone exchange, and bank number.

    Non-response in telephone interviews produces some known biases in survey-derived estimates because participation tends to vary for different subgroups of the population, and these subgroups are likely to vary also on questions of substantive interest. In order to compensate for these known biases, the sample data are weighted in analysis. The weights are derived using an iterative technique that simultaneously balances the distribution of all weighting parameters.

    Kinda half-serious, half-joking, but I wonder if those that participated in this survey should also be categorized as folks that are willing to submit to phone surveys. Is that something that's worth considering?

    And am I reading the above correctly that of the 2,515 folks they called, only 32.7 percent actually responded? That's a little over 820 individuals. Is a survey successful if only 32% responded? Inquiring minds and all that.

    Anyway, I wouldn't be surprised if they did a similar survey among folks that use computer software in the workforce and found that most people don't comprehend that software itself is copyrighted. I still meet plenty of folks that pirate alot of software, with rather innocent looks on their faces when told that they're not supposed to do that. I'm not talking about lone computer users... I'm talking about the head of a business that oversees a few dozen machines and they're all running Word with pirated numbers, etc.
    • Kinda half-serious, half-joking, but I wonder if those that participated in this survey should also be categorized as folks that are willing to submit to phone surveys. Is that something that's worth considering

      You just hit on one of the dirty secrets of the market research industry. The people who you want to talk to, don't want to talk to you. The end result is :
      67% of boring people with no life and no friends think ........

  • by Pituritus Ani ( 247728 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @09:48AM (#6599490) Homepage
  • Playing the Game (Score:5, Insightful)

    by N8F8 ( 4562 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @09:55AM (#6599509)
    I think the majority of Americans understand this as all some stupid game and one side has already bribed the referees.

    Ex1: Disney's obvious bribing of Congress to get the Copyright length extended.

    Ex2: AOL, Microsoft etc bribing state politicians to pass DCMA even though it is as anti-consumer a law as you can get.

    and so on....
    • by Trinition ( 114758 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @11:01AM (#6599775) Homepage
      the majority of Americans

      I have to disagree. I think the majority of Americans think a copyright is a little "c" inside a circle. They know nothing of the Sonny Bony Copyright Extension Act. They know nothing of the DMCA.

      Now, they will believe that politicians can be untruthful. They will believe the rich are powerful They will believe, especially after the big exposure of scandals like Enron, that big busniess will be corrupt. And certainly they will tie all fo this together.

      But most people DO NOT have a solid understanding of copyright and how it will affect their life. And the truth is, if it doesn't raise their taxes and put them in danger, they won't care.

      The media has done a poor job of explaining to the public the problems with our current copyright laws. The price fixing the RIAA members were using in record stores passed under the radar of the common American. The ever extending copyright terms do too. The fact that the blank CDs American's buy to burn their music and files to cost more because the RIAA gets a piece of that pie (although, more and more, people ARE using them to record pirated music, so that fee is less uncalled for).

      If the media could start to explain these things with their clever abilities to squash everything into catchy soundbites, then Americans would understand that those little "c"s inside circles are another way somebody is trying to screw them out of what's fair, then your statement owuld begin to hold true.
      • Good Point (Score:4, Insightful)

        by N8F8 ( 4562 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @11:54AM (#6600121)
        The truth is likely that Americans understand politicians are corrupt and in the hands of big business. The problem is that rather than that generating a force to change things for the better it has given politicians lease to do even more against the best interrests of the public without fear of being singled out.
  • by OneInEveryCrowd ( 62120 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @09:59AM (#6599516)
    It would have been a better study if they had delved more into the reasons why most people don't care.

    For example, do people not care because they don't even think about it, because they think they won't get caught, or because they think a monopoly is abusing both copyright law and the campaign finance system? Some of the above ? None of the above ?

    My only reaction to the study in its current form is like "well duh-uh !!!".
  • by GammaTau ( 636807 ) <> on Sunday August 03, 2003 @10:09AM (#6599538) Homepage Journal

    The copyright system has traditionally been a system that concerns professional authors and professional publishers and distributors. The general public has never really had a need to pay any more attention to copyright than to many other business-to-business issues or issues that concern a narrow field of profession.

    Now basically every individual who can access the Internet can distribute works in massive quantities. Any person who makes their own web page and has a few hundred visitors has done what was very hard for an average person a decade ago. Publishing is no longer an expensive task that only traditional medias such as newspapers and record companies can afford.

    The copyright system will eventually go through a major reform. The current form is simply designed for a situation where there are few authors and few publishers and then the general public that isn't either an author or a publisher. That situation no longer matches the reality which is why a new copyright system (if there will be a copyright system at all) will need to handle copyright as an issue that concerns each and everyone.

    • by tgibbs ( 83782 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @10:42AM (#6599679)
      This is a case where the letter of the law deviates so far from the popular understanding of morality that it is simply being ignored. Frankly, I doubt whether the public will ever accept the notion that copyright or patent law applies to noncommercial sharing, or that there is anything immoral about it. I think that the continued effort to use technology and ever-more draconian legal tactics to cram such restrictions down the public's throat will ultimately cost content producers more in the ill will that it creates than they make in sales. I believe that we are moving into an era in which people pay for convenience, presentation, and out of general goodwill (e.g. shareware fees) rather than for the content itself.
      • This is a case where the letter of the law deviates so far from the popular understanding of morality that it is simply being ignored.

        That's exactly right. The best analogy I can think of is speed limits. People routinely exceed posted speed limits and don't think themselves criminals for doing so. The reason is that while speed limits in principle are a good idea, in practice they are set unreasonably low, for the purpose of revenue generation rather than safety. Likewise, while the stated goal of copy

  • by fayd ( 143105 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @10:18AM (#6599570)
    Well, let's see here. File sharing of copyrighted material is becoming a felony. Let's follow the trend, shall we?

    Some file sharer get's caught with 200GB of music ... and 4 CDs. Get's charged with a felony. What are the best defenses for felony charges?


    Lawyer: Your honor, my client is addicted to music. His income is insufficient to purchase the music legally so he trades online.

    Judge: Six months in rehab, two years probation. *bang*

    RIAA Lawyer: *stunned bunny look*

  • by Vapula ( 14703 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @10:21AM (#6599582)
    In the beginning, books could only be reproduced by carefully copying it line after line, like monk did. It took very much time to make a single copy. Every copy had a great value... But anyone with enough time and knowledge (not everyone was able to write) could do it... without being prosecuted.

    Then came Gutemberg. He found a way to make numbers of copies of a single work much faster. The initial work was still a long process.

    Now, anyone can have a copier at home and copying of paperwork became available to anyone. But "production" costsof a copy and the finish of that copy are still quite expensive in comparison to "commercial" process. And duplicating a book damage the original and is still slow.

    There are some "pirate" distribution of books, but having a book scanned in PDF or in TXT is not similar to hving the real thing.

    For the music, the way was a little bit different...

    At the beginning, there was NO way of recording music. Bands were paid to play. Then came the firsts recording, which were process unavailable to people (a little like Gutemberg press) and there was a protection which was mostly between companies (not companies vs individuals). This is like what we have for books.

    Then, new media appeared, beginning by big tapes on a wheel, then the tapes we still use today, then the CD and now, computer formats like MP3.

    The biggest difference is that, where it's still more expensive, destructive and less appealing to copy a book by an individual, copying a song is (very) cheap, don't damage the original recording and with color printers and scanners, you can have a CD-box with a copy of the original artwork or some custom artwork. Only the on-cd picture can't be done.

    So, even if the law protecting both a book and a music record is the same, we have 2 distinct situations.

    Add to that the fact that many musician complain about recording companies, that even if the manufacturing costs have dropped, the cost of music has increased (the cost of books has DROPPED).

    One more is the fact that record companies are introducing more and more "one-shot" artists (making new stars from nothing, using mass advertisement and such). When you like some artist which make new musics of equal (or similar) quality over the time, you are more willing to buy its CD than when it's some "jack out of the box" artist you don't know and which won't last past the summer. You can be willing to support some artist you like, but when it's a one-shot artist, you are NOT given that opportunity.

    And you can add to that the fact that many songs are unavailable at stores because the recording companies found that these were too old or that there is no interrest in these. While you can rent a book at the local library and won't probably read it again and again, this is not true when we are speaking of music because when you like a song/tune, you'll listen to it again and again nad will need to keep it. and if you can't find it at your local music-store, you're left with only ONE solution : copying it.

    We have a similar problem with films. many films are NOT worth the price you've to pay for them. and, when you've paid to see it in a theater, you could find it incorrect to have to pay for it again to see it at home... not speaking about the many films which NEVER find their way out of their original country because of lack of interrest.

    For films, we see more and more films with nearly no story but loads of known actors and of special effects. This lead to lots of "junk" with little interrest, which cost more and more to produce and is less and less worth it's price... and while the actual manufacturing of the film support (VHS or DVD) is less and less expensive, prices have actually gone UP.

    Both for music and films, the people feel that it has a "real" value which is constantly decreasing and a price which is increasing... Add to that the wories like protected-CD (well... these are not really CD as they don't conform to the standard)
  • by Featureless ( 599963 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @10:24AM (#6599596) Journal
    And while there has been a remarkable "revolution" in the arts which has created some "in the gut" recognition for something called "intellectual property," the human animal simply has a terrible time recognizing that music, or performance, or writing, or any idea made slightly tangible, is not just something you share.

    They're like the air on a hot summer day. We swim in an ocean of ideas - our own indistinguishable from those around us. We inhale and osmose and exclaim and excrete all as natural instinctive intellectual processes. We are not built to recognize such artificial distinctions as "the owner of a song" (or a sentence, or an idea) because they are simply unnatural. This ownership must be violated at every instant - as you sing in the shower, as you share a rumor, as a teacher teaches or a librarian lends you our richest treasures. Calling it "intellectual property" is itself propaganda - it is the most shocking of bad metaphors in recent times.

    Copyright is the barest of fictions, intended to allow artists to live, not Michael Eisner to summer in Tenerife. It does make for some interesting, even good, results, in the way they were originally practiced (as intended by the folks who founded our nation, for instance) - where for a few (like seven!) years there were some artifical means for an artist to thrive from her work, that didn't involve the help of wealthy patrons (which was how the old world used to do it).

    But I think if you asked Washington he would be very surprised at the idea of copyright taken precedence over sharing - though of course he and his colleagues would have shaken their heads at the complexity of "mass-scale distributed sharing."

    They would certainly rage at and mock the outrageous "extend every time mickey mouse is in danger" new time limits (one of the more transpareant examples of the subversion of democracy by a wealthy cartel). And if informed of the new punishments for violators, or pre-punishment of potential violators, or direct trust "taxes" on things which might be used to violate... they would pick up their arms and fight.

    You think it's melodramatic to say so, but America is a nation of ideas, of rational supremacy, and the economic achievement that can only come from intellectual liberty. The new rules that Disney and Microsoft have mutated intellectual property with over the last decade choke off that liberty in the most violent way, by destroying the commons of ideas, erasing the essential quality of trust in our democracy, and violating the supremacy of free speech and free expression that made our country wealthy, successful in affairs of state, and also a fun place to live.

    And all this, not for some grave end - to fight terrorism or feed the hungry - but only so a publisher can increase their profit margins.

    Not even the politicians would countenance it, ordinarily. It's bad for almost everyone but a select few, and it is even bad for them - content creators need the commons more than anyone. But politicians have a unique respect for those who control the media...

    Remember what copyright was originally intended to do. Consider the new tools we have - there are better ways now than what we did in the past, and anything is better than what the cartel wants.
  • by DisKurzion ( 662299 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @10:28AM (#6599617)
    Is that it exemplifies 'legality' and 'deviance'.

    For a quick lesson in socialogy, legality is whether the law has determined something to be wrong. Deviance is whether or not it is against societal norms.

    Speeding is and example of something that is NOT deviant, but is illegal. EVERYONE speeds, if only a little bit, despite that the law says you arn't supposed to. When a situation like this arises, usually the law is repealed, the punishment is slack, or there is leeway when enforcing the law. That is why cops tend to be lenient with speeding tickets. Cops will let you get away with 5-10 MPH over, while someone who is doing 35+ over will almost certainly come down hard. Prohibition in the 20's is another example, except in this case, the laws were repealed. (there are probably more recent examples, but IANAL, or a socialogist, so I havn't done much research)

    This survey shows that amoung (american) internet users, file-sharing(downloading) isn't deviant, despite it's illegality. I'm going out on a limb here, but I'd say in most of the world, file-sharing isn't illegal, and it certainly isn't deviant. Even if laws are passes to severly punish the users, the judiciary system will almost certainly strike them down if the behavior is relativly harmless (nobody is getting killed), and it isn't deviant.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 03, 2003 @10:29AM (#6599623)

    It is amazing to see how the people are always right, ahead of the politicians.

    Since "intellectual property" is not a natural law, but was introduced only to increase productivity, one cannot help feeling that IP law, in its current form, may have outlived its usefulness.

    What does the society gain by protecting the IP of music publishers? Do we risk underproduction (or extinction?) of music if the IP "rights" of Sony Entertainment are not protected at all? Or would that rather restore some sanity and the value of culture? IP is becoming a tool with which major corporations tax average joe and small business startups, not unlike emperors used to tax salt.

    In the software field, for all I see, dispensing of IP would stop corporate lawyers from trying to destroy honest developers working in companies without huge legal departments, and would even encourage sane re-use of software and thus increase the general welfare, the Linux way.

  • I'd be interested in knowing what the numbers would be for adults that don't trade files.

    I'd be willing to bet that the percentages are probably similar. In fact, it's far more likely that the _average_ adult has far less respect for copyright than the average file trader simply because of the demographic distribution of people who have computers and networks good enough to actually play music and movies. Things like education and knowledge work would tend to imply a higher exposure to copyright issues, wo
  • Even higher here (Score:3, Informative)

    by macemoneta ( 154740 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @10:56AM (#6599744) Homepage
    Our local (NY, NJ, CT) WB affiliate ran a poll the other day, and their result was that 92% think it's OK to share copyrighted files using P2P systems.

    As they reported that number, the anchor's comment was, "As you'd expect..". I guess he thought it was OK too. :-)
  • by nlinecomputers ( 602059 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @11:11AM (#6599837)
    Most people have no understanding of copyright at all. They can't respect something they don't really understand.

    The average person doesn't understand what a copyright is. It's too abstract. A CD or a book is something they can physically hold. To them they think they own the book not a "COPY" of the book. Stealing a book is easy to understand and visualize. Stealing potential profits that one has a limited right (sic) to is something that is harder for people to understand or care about.

    If they can't see and touch it they don't care. Many people bitch and moan about ATM fees because they can see that $2 charge taken away from them right at the time of withdrawal. Yet they don't realize that the amount of taxes a person has withheld on a paycheck is really double. They don't see so they don't understand it or they don't care.

    They don't understand the difference between a constitutionally granted right and a constitutionally protected right. Copyrights are granted rights. Free speech and the right to bear arms are protected rights.

    Despite the Slashdot wish that this was a grand showing of defiance against the evil corporations most people don't understand about that and don't care.
  • by Entropius ( 188861 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @11:33AM (#6599995)
    I am a member of a fairly successful American university choir. We record all of our performances for our own use, but can't sell--or even distribute for free--most of them, because of copyright laws. Keep in mind nearly all of our repetoire was composed before 1917.

    Last fall we performed Mozart's Requiem Mass (composed 1791), and many of the singers wanted to make and sell/give away a recording... but we found out to our dismay that we couldn't. Why? Because the [i]scores[/i] we were using were covered by copyright. This is a bit absurd--of all the people who deserve to earn money off that performance, the typesetters and editors are the last on the list. We already paid them for their work, dammit: we paid $1000 for a hundred copies (plus orchestra parts) of something that should be public domain.

    We have many recordings we'd love to publish on the Internet (publicity and all), but can't.

    There are two CD's which we have secured copyright permission (from the score publisher--neither work itself is covered by copyright) to sell. While I'm not involved in the finances of the choir, I do know that the CD's cost $10 and we make a $5 profit off of each. Now, where does that other $5 go? Jewel cases, inserts, and the costs of CD replication are no more than $.50-$1, so [i]someone[/i] is getting $4 royalties from each disc--almost certainly the publisher of the score.

    Modern copyright law isn't necessarily friendly to the "small artists". We'd love to put up our recordings on the Internet, or sell more CD's at concerts (the two aren't mutually exclusive!) for a greater profit... but we can't.

    And all of us would be tickled pink if one of our recordings showed up on Kazaa.
  • by MichaelCrawford ( 610140 ) on Sunday August 03, 2003 @11:49AM (#6600089) Homepage Journal
    Copyright is not a right guaranteed to Americans in the way that free speech is. While the Constitution empowers Congress to create copyright "to promote the useful arts and sciences", it doesn't actually require Congress to do so.

    Copyright could be abolished tomorrow if you could just get the votes in Congress required to pass a bill to repeal it. Sure, Dubya might veto it, but if you can get a two thirds majority in Congress, you can override a veto.

    If you don't think this can happen, consider that more Americans are trading files today than voted for George Bush. Yes, many if not most file traders are under eighteen, but political upheavals usually take time. The sort of time that would allow most of today's youthful peer-to-peer users to come of age.

    My new piece Change the Law [] explains this in more detail. It recommends several specific steps you can take to repeal copyright. The recommendations I give are:

    • Speak Out
    • Vote
    • Write to Your Elected Representatives
    • Donate Money to Political Campaigns
    • Support Campaign Finance Reform
    • Join the Electronic Frontier Foundation
    • Practice Civil Disobedience
    If you're under eighteen, you can do all of those things but vote. And your right to vote will come in time. The RIAA is not going to go away.

    Finally, Should Copyright Even Exist? [] considers the question of whether the ability of computers to make faithful copies of digital data without significant cost so outweighs any benefit that copyright may have to society, that we would be better off if copyright were eliminated entirely.

  • Pogrom? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WG55 ( 153191 ) <> on Sunday August 03, 2003 @01:25PM (#6600582)

    From the original article:

    What does the RIAA think of this report? They called the Pew study outdated. Hmmm, I guess they feel that their
    pogrom against the few file traders they plan to sue as the first "examples" is already working so well a survey conducted just this past March, April, and May is already obsolete.

    The RIAA is inflicting a pogrom against file traders? They are using death camps instead of lawsuits? Such extreme hyperbole does not call the policy of the RIAA into question as much as it does the judgement of the author.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982