Posted March 13, 2009

File Sharing Has Become the “New Normal” for Most Online Canadians

Few respondents support placing a levy on Internet Service Providers to replace lost revenue.

TORONTO – While music industry executives huddle to come up with digital media strategies during this week’s Canadian Music Week conference, a recent survey by Angus Reid Strategies indicates that they may face significant headwinds in public opinion.


- 45% say people who use peer-to-peer file sharing services to download music and movies are regular Internet users doing what people should be able to do on the Internet

- Only 3% believe file-sharers are criminals who should be punished by law
Full topline results are at the end of this release.

From March 6 to March 9, 2009, Angus Reid Strategies conducted an online survey among 1,395 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panelists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 2.6%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted by age, gender and region according to Statistics Canada’s Canadian Internet Use Survey to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of Canadian Internet users. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

A majority of Canadian Internet users see no major problems with peer-to-peer file sharing, and most react negatively to the notion of a levy on ISPs that would help to compensate musicians for the music they create.

In the online survey of a representative national sample, nearly half of respondents (45 per cent) say those who use peer-to-peer file sharing services to download music and movies are “just regular Internet users doing what people should be able to do on the Internet.”

An additional 27 per cent admit these people are “doing something they shouldn’t be doing” but say “it’s not a big deal.”

In contrast, only three per cent agree with what has often been the music industry’s position that file sharers “are criminals who should be punished by law.” As for an appropriate remedy, one quarter of Canadians (25 per cent) feel that “technology should be developed to stop this.”

The survey also indicates that an attempt to recoup lost revenues by imposing a levy on ISPs would meet stiff resistance. Nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) of online Canadians believe such a levy would represent “an inappropriate and/or unnecessary levy that would be passed down to consumers.”

The survey shows that peer-to-peer file sharing is prevalent in Canada. Among Canadian Internet users, 23 per cent say they have downloaded free digital music files from peer-to-peer file sharing sites in the past 30 days, while just 12 per cent have paid a fee to download digital music files from an online music store such as iTunes.

A significant proportion of online Canadians have not bought into the idea of paying for online music. Proponents of file sharing have long held that the music industry is doing itself a disservice by attacking its own fan base, noting that these consumers are often the most voracious music enthusiasts. This survey supports that notion, as those who downloaded an MP3 file from a free file-sharing service are significantly more likely to say they will buy a CD in the next month (41 per cent vs. 34 per cent for non-file sharers), and are more likely to have gone to a concert in the past year (65 per cent vs. 52 per cent for non-file sharers).

© Copyright 2009/Exchange Morning Post/Exchange Business Communications Inc.
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