The Copyright Board of Canada conducted hearings today on the private copying levy. Included as part of the evidence was a major survey (not online at the moment) on music copying conducted for the Canadian Private Copying Collective (CPCC) by Reseau Circum. The CPCC, which counts CRIA General Counsel Richard Pfohl as one of its board members, has tracked music copying habits since 2001-02.
The headliner in the latest survey is that file sharing activity is in steady decline in Canada. The survey, conducted in June 2006, finds that just 14 percent of Canadians have downloaded music in the last 12 months, down from 15 percent in 2005, 19 percent in 2004, 21 percent in 2003, and 21 percent in 2002. It goes without saying that this finding comes despite the absence of lawsuits, the absence of copyright reform, and the continual (yet questionable) claims that Canada is a world leader in file sharing.
As expected, file sharing activity is higher in the younger demographics – 39 percent of 12-17 years olds have downloaded in the past 12 months, 29 percent of 18-25 year olds, 13 percent of those in 26-45 age bracket, and only 3 percent of those over the age of 46. Contrast those numbers with CRIA-commissioned Pollara data from earlier this year which misleadingly asked whether survey respondents had ever used file sharing services. Unsurprisingly, that question resulted in a positive response from 69 percent of 12-17 year olds and 64 percent of 18-25 year olds – numbers that provided CRIA with the opportunity to claim that file sharing continues unabated when in fact the numbers are shrinking.
The survey included several additional noteworthy findings:
- When respondents were asked how many songs downloaded from the Internet reside on their computers, 35 percent said zero, 26 percent said between 1-50 songs, 17 percent said 51-250, and 17 percent said 251 or more.
- When asked about the number of songs obtained from P2P services in the previous month, 29 percent said none, 54 percent said between 1-50, and just 9 nine percent said more than 51 songs. That contrasts with 2002 data when 14 percent said zero, 71 percent said between 1-50, and 11 percent said more than 51 songs.
- When asked about the use of commercial download sites such as iTunes, 67 percent said they had no songs from such services on their computers and 19 percent said they between 1-50 songs. That contrasts with data in 2002 when 84 percent said they had no songs from such services on their computers and 12 percent said they had between 1-50 songs.
- Respondents who have purchased less music in the last 12 months were asked to explain the change. Just nine percent of respondents cited P2P as the reason for fewer purchases.
So we have yet another survey, this one indirectly backed by CRIA, that points to the fact that file sharing simply isn't the concern that CRIA claims. When combined with the Pollara study (top source of music is burned CDs, not P2P) and the Canadian Heritage music report (continued gains for Canadian music), the evidence continues to affirm that legal reforms targeting P2P are wrongheaded solutions in search of a problem.