Study: Despite Tougher Copyright Monopoly Laws, Sharing Remains Pervasive

61% of 15-25-year-olds engage directly in sharing of culture. The social pressure for upholding the copyright monopoly laws is close to non-existent. The few who are deterred by harsher monopoly enforcement tend to compensate by anonymizing. These are the conclusions of a fresh study on the youths’ sharing of culture.

The Cybernormer group at the University of Lund has published a followup report from a 2009 study, showing that the current ban on sharing culture and knowledge remains utterly without public support, despite harshenings of the copyright monopoly law itself as well as of its enforcement.

  • 61% of 15-25-year-olds in Sweden share culture online, in violation of the copyright monopoly.
  • This fraction has not changed in size over the past three years.
  • The fraction who share heavily has even increased somewhat, from 18% to 20%.

The results are conclusive; despite tougher laws against sharing knowledge and culture in the past years in Sweden, these laws have not even made a scratch in the attitudes around file-sharing. If anything, the activity has even increased slightly. In the Swedish experience, the social pressure is typically to be a good citizen and share, and not to obey the monopolies. The study agrees:

“We can safely say that the repressive legal developments in this field have very weak support in informal social control mechanisms of society”, says Måns Svensson, Ph.D. in judicial sociology, one of the researchers doing the study. “The social pressure is close to non-existent.”

Yet, the overall political trend has been tougher monopolies as well as harsher enforcement of them. Svensson sees a small dent in the behavior, but not necessarily the kind that leads to respect of the monopoly laws against the social norms – rather, many people find other ways to keep sharing and sleep well at night:

“Such strategies seem to have a minor deterrent effect on young people’s inclination to fileshare online”, Svensson continues. “However, without support in social norms, people tend to look for countermeasures, such as anonymity services. Or they turn to sneakernets when sharing media.”

(“Sneakernet” is a general term for offline technologies for sharing culture – such as bringing your two-terabyte portable hard drive over to a friend’s home.)

The researchers also note the overall implications on society of having monopoly laws that are this disconnected from the social norms:

“Of course, laws that lack societal support risk undermining people’s trust in democracy and the rule of law in the long run”, Svensson concludes.

This study – that harsher enforcement only serves to move file sharing into unenforceable territories, and even then, only in small amounts – is interesting in itself. But we should also take a look at the almost-two-thirds that share culture, and put that number in a household context.

Seeing that the 61% in the study covers people who directly partake in sharing of culture, a reasonable conclusion would be that practically 100% in this age group do it directly or indirectly – meaning that it’s usually one person in a household who does the file sharing, but all people in the household happily enjoy that culture once it’s brought to the household. When those who share directly reach as high a fraction as 61%, we are far beyond the saturation point where there are no more indirect beneficiaries of the activity. So while this was not part of the study, modeling on other social patterns, it would be a safe assumption that culture sharing has a practical 100% penetration in people’s daily lives in this age group.

This holds great promise for the future. The young of today do not accept repressive laws, and either ignore them or actively subvert them.

The Cybernormer group has its home here (in Swedish).

Rick Falkvinge

Rick is the founder of the first Pirate Party and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot.

Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published.

Since I'm not a robot spammer I'm also answering this easy question:

Discussion

  1. […] era, copyright laws are just getting tougher. But people really, really don’t give a shit. 61% of 15-25-year-olds in Sweden fileshare personally, and heavy sharers have gone up. (Translated Swedish news […]

  2. Buglord

    nice article, but one thing’s bugging me, WTH kind of keyboard has w in that relation to shift?

    1. Rick Falkvinge

      I cropped out a Control key that was marked “kntrl”, so I guess it’s one of the East-European variants.

  3. Calandrella

    Sadly, my own experiences (as a 16-year-old swede) is that while people share culture (even though, perhaps, finding it morally wrong on some level), they care a lot more about culture (which is part of their daily life) than of privacy (which they simply don’t see the point with). Of course, this is just my personal experience of the twenty-something people in my age group I have talked about theses issues with, so it doesn’t really say anything. But though I myself don’t have the ability to do a study, I would find it extremely interesting to read a study of how Swedish youth values privacy, and how they reason in surveillance issues and their overall use of privacy protecting tecnical measurements.

    1. Zacqary Adam Green

      I’ve noticed that too in the US. Being lax about privacy is like smoking cigarettes: it seems completely harmless until it’s too late. We might want to take a few pages from the playbook of public health campaigns in talking to people about privacy.

    2. Scary Devil Monastery

      Swedish youth and privacy…well, unfortunately we are weaned and curled to the point where we just “assume” that there will always be “benevolent authority” in charge of our lives.

      And that, for many Swedes, means they consider the state a benevolent second father. Despite all evidence to the contrary that it’s a father who on occasion eats his own children.

      Add to this that most people simply don’t make the connection about being tracked and traced online at all times with the similar, far more easily understood idea of being followed day and night by a plain clothes police officer who takes notes whenever you talk to someone or check out a book or magazine. Which almost everyone would find intolerable in short order.

  4. Peter Andersson

    Rick, om du följer Boing-Boing så har du kanske redan sett detta, USA kan komma att legalisera regeringspropaganda som är MEDVETET lögnaktig:

    http://boingboing.net/2012/05/21/proposed-us-law-makes-domestic.html

  5. Johan

    “Seeing that the 61% in the study covers people who directly partake in sharing of culture, a reasonable conclusion would be that practically 100% in this age group do it directly or indirectly – meaning that it’s usually one person in a household who does the file sharing, but all people in the household happily enjoy that culture once it’s brought to the household.”

    Er. A lot of the persons in that age group live in single-person households or together with non-file-sharing parents.

    1. Gurra

      Maybe the parents do not share files themselves but their children help them with doing it.

  6. Roman Grazhdan

    And here comes some good news from BSA: http://www.techweekeurope.co.uk/news/half-of-pc-users-are-pirates-says-study-78879

    Looks even more impressive than aforementioned research. And they still state that more repressions is the answer, what a morons.

  7. […] här taktiken fungerar visserligen inte för att minska fildelningen. Förra veckan publicerade gruppen Cybernormer vid Lunds universitet en studie som visar att andelen ungdomar som fildelar inte har minskat ett dugg jämfört med 2009, trots att […]

  8. […] quickly. And now, a new research report has come out showing that just as many 15 to 25-year-olds share unauthorized content online as did so at the time IPRED became law. In fact, a larger percentage of that age group share […]

  9. […] quickly. And now, a new research report has come out showing that just as many 15 to 25-year-olds share unauthorized content online as did so at the time IPRED became law. In fact, a larger percentage of that age group share […]

  10. […] quickly. And now, a new research report has come out showing that just as many 15 to 25-year-olds share unauthorized content online as did so at the time IPRED became law. In fact, a larger percentage of that age group share […]

  11. fasqwee

    HAHAHAHA :)

  12. […] question of the effectiveness of these laws is mixed (positive view one, two – negative view one, two). In New Zealand so far the laws seem to have had an impact on the way files are shared but […]

  13. Ellen

    Obviously I think not but it is a great third game. Wars are
    largely fought in a manner similar to the board game Risk.
    If you absolutely can’t figure out what to get your pal,
    then consider sending him some Wo – W gold in the mail.

arrow