Study: U.S. swappers shrug off copyrights

More than two-thirds of Americans don't care whether the music they swap online is copyrighted, according to a new study, despite the record industry's antipiracy efforts.

2 min read
More than two-thirds of Americans who swap songs online don't care whether the music is copyrighted, according to a study, despite the record industry's antipiracy crackdown.

The Pew Internet and American Life Project study, released Thursday, found that 67 percent of U.S. Internet file swappers are indifferent to copyright concerns, a jump from 61 percent of respondents in a survey taken the summer of 2000. The survey, of 2,515 adults in the United States, took place from March through May--just a few months before the recording industry began gathering evidence to sue individual file swappers.

"The struggle to enforce copyright laws in the digital age continues to be an uphill battle for content owners," researchers wrote in the report.

In an effort to regain control of the distribution of copyrighted music, the Recording Industry Association of America in June warned that it would send subpoenas to Internet service providers, asking them to identify alleged song swappers so it could sue them. So far, the industry group has issued hundreds of subpoenas, ensnaring people from all walks of life.

The Pew study also looked at demographics, finding that income and ethnicity often correlated with file swapping. According to the report, people from lower-income households are more likely to download files online. About 38 percent of American Internet users with an annual household income below $30,000 downloaded files, compared with 26 percent of those with an income above $75,000.

The study found that wired members of certain ethnic groups were more likely to download music.

"African-Americans and Hispanics are also more devoted downloaders than their white counterparts," wrote researchers, who found that 37 percent of online African-Americans and 35 percent of online Hispanics said they had downloaded music, compared with 28 percent of whites.

Students are very likely to download, the survey found, with about 56 percent saying they've downloaded songs. Those who've obtained a college degree were reported as being the most concerned about copyright laws.