"NEARLY HALF OF ADULTS IN THE US AND IN GERMANY participate in a broad, informal “copy culture,” characterized by the copying, sharing, and downloading of music, movies, TV shows, and other digital media. Among young adults, the number is 70%.
Most of this activity is casual and occasional. Much of it happens offline, in exchanges between friends. In most European countries, including Germany, much of it is legal. Copy culture is pervasive because it is the first practical iteration of a powerful idea: of culture as a universal library, abundant and shared. It is pervasive because copying media has become very easy—an extension of the basic operations of computers and networks.
And it is pervasive because, for both of these reasons, it is very hard to control. We are living in a period of intense debate over the boundaries and policing of copy culture. The past year has seen controversy after controversy on these issues, from the troubled implementation of “three-strikes” laws for infringement in France, to the rise of the Pirate Party in Germany, to the successful large-scale protests against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the US and the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) in Europe.
Repeatedly, copyright enforcement proposals have been pulled into wider debates about culture, innovation, and human rights. This convergence is inevitable. As computers and networks become part of the fabric of human life, they become enablers of both rights and new forms of social control. They define and limit freedom of expression and information. They embed tradeoffs between services, security, and privacy. The more basic the functionality, the more important the rules that govern them. Because of this convergence, it takes little imagination to see larger stakes in proposals to restrict the copying of files or block access to websites. And so after years of relative obscurity, these debates have become—rightly—politicized.
Copy Culture in the US and Germany is an effort to illuminate these issues through a survey of attitudes and practices regarding copying and downloading, enforcement, and business model innovation"...