First Amendment Center Surveys Public About Piracy

Ken Paulson

Most Americans believe the government should prosecute people who pirate music and movies online according to a new survey conducted by the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University. Released July 17, the survey shows 59 percent favor prosecuting pirates, 33 percent are opposed, and nine percent “don’t know.”

The public is more ambivalent about the use of copyrighted material on social media. 44 percent of those surveyed said people should be able to post copyrighted material online without paying rights fees “as long as no money is being made.” 42 percent said posters should not have that right.

“Using content for personal and hobby use is consistent with the legal doctrine of fair use, allowing us to use copyrighted material in limited, generally nonprofit ways that don’t significantly affect the market for the original content,” explained Ken Paulson, president of the First Amendment Center.

“At this country’s birth, the nation’s founders guaranteed free speech and art through the First Amendment and ensured compensation for authors and creators through a copyright clause in the U.S. Constitution and federal law. These were complementary principles, which together helped ensure that a then-young nation would be a capital of creativity, ” added Paulson. “As illegal downloading has flourished, the right to create remains unabated, but the right to be paid for your work has been seriously damaged.”

The 2012 national survey of 1006 adults was conducted in June by telephone by the PERT Group, and directed by Dr. Kenneth Dautrich.


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Sarah Skates has worked in the music business for more than a decade and is a longtime contributor to MusicRow.

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