A new Google-funded survey
out of Columbia University (pdf, via Ars Technica
) unsurprisingly finds that those who pirate also tend to buy the most content. Despite the RIAA having a hard time admitting this fact, that pirates are the industry's best customers is something that has repeatedly been shown to be true
in studies -- over and over and over again.
The survey also unsurprisingly found that the majority of those polled oppose throttling, blocking or censoring of content by ISPs, search engines and governments, though the results vary depending on age and how specifically (or perhaps menacingly) the questions are worded:
Support for search engine and ISP blocking tracks with age: only 39% of 18- to 29-year-olds support requirements that search engines block sites, while 59% oppose them. Americans 65 and older, in contrast, support blocking by 59% to 31%. Other enforcement questions are less age sensitive. One possible explanation is that the young are less tolerant of blocking by services viewed as primary gateways to the Internet (such as ISPs) than of services perceived to be secondary or replaceable (Facebook).
When asked if the government should block access to sites that infringe, majority support for enforcement vanishes: 40% say yes; 56% no. When we replace the word "block" with the stronger "censor," support drops further: 33% say yes; 64% say no. Americans do not like government involvement in these matters. Should ISPs “censor” infringing content rather than “block”? Support drops 12%: 46% say yes; 49% say no.
That's of course why throttling, blocking and otherwise hindering users via the upcoming six strikes plan
may not be the smartest plan, since the industry is essentially shooting their best customers in the foot (not to mention the significant additional problems with the plan
). Not only because pirates tend to be the biggest buyers of legit content, but also because using the government and ISPs to play piracy policy simply creates additional ill-will toward the entertainment and content industries. Not that the RIAA or MPAA have shown concern at any point about either.
Offering easy, legitimate ways to acquire low-priced content continues (Steam, Spotify, GOG) to be the best weapon against piracy.