RealTime IT News

Survey: Consumers Oppose Anti-Piracy Laws

More than 53 percent of Americans fear that any Congressional efforts to limit piracy of online content such as music and movies would only end up making an already complicated problem worse, according to a recent poll of consumer attitudes.

In fact, only four percent of those polled believe the government should get actively involved in preventing online piracy, according to a survey conducted by SutherlandGold, a marketing communications firm.

Fifty-four percent believe that Congressional mandates might have the unintended consequence of stifling technological innovation and restricting the access of law-abiding consumers to entertainment content on the Internet.

"Much has been made of Hollywood's powerful lobbying voice in the Digital Rights Management debate," said Lesley Gold, managing partner at San Francisco-based SutherlandGold. "This survey shows that the technology community could greatly benefit from waking the real sleeping giant in this debate: consumers."

"Clearly, consumers feel protecting their right to access content is a far greater priority than protecting the interests of copyright holders," said Scott Sutherland, also a managing partner.

The survey was based on 1,000 responses from consumers who answered an online questionnaire.

Despite a variety of measures pending in Congress to address online copyright issues, only 18 percent of those surveyed said it's important that Congress make the online piracy issue a priority this year.

Congress ultimately passed no laws last year to resolve the long-running and bitter digital copyright feud between the entertainment industry and peer-to-peer file swapping services.

Events outside Capitol Hill, however, are pushing the issue to the brink with lawsuits stacking up and lobbyists for both sides already preparing battle plans for the new Congress.

A sizable majority in the survey believes that allowing the entertainment industry to dictate the terms of new laws intended to protect copyright would have highly negative consequences. More than 53 percent of consumers agreed with the statement, "that if allowed to make the rules, the entertainment industry will treat us all like criminals in their attempt to crack down on piracy."

Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, which ensures protracted copyright protection for literature, movies, songs, and cartoon characters.

The ruling was considered a major setback for artists, online publishers, and anyone else with a vested interested in free access to public domain works. It was a victor for companies like Disney and other major corporations that rely on the profits from copyrighted property.