Search of Some Type Delivers For-Fee Content

January 30, 2009

The story Dutch Treat: Pay for Some Content, Pirate the Rest here reveals that publicly accessible search engines work pretty well for the Dutch. The author, Jart Armin, set out to report on the “piracy” rate in the Netherlands. The figure in his article was couched this way:

The Institute for Information Law in the Netherlands reports that the average downloader buys more DVDs, music, and games than people who never download. Illegal downloaders represent 45 percent of consumers who purchase content legally, the institute recently reported. The Institute estimates some 4.7 million Dutch Internet users 15 years and older downloaded hacked and pirated DVDs, games, and music in the last 12 months.

I interpreted the data differently. It’s obvious that the finding systems used by almost half of the Dutch deliver content that is protected by copyright or for sale. Search systems are obviously making it easy for about half of the Dutch Web users to find and obtain these materials. What’s the fix? Legislate Google (the new Microsoft)? Crack down on (a metasearch engine I like)? Maybe the Dutch should take more stringent steps? Prison for some? Public service for others? Big fines? Filtering? A digital dyke instead of earth and stone dykes?

My hunch is that the demographic shift of which I have written will undermine the efforts to prevent “piracy”. “Kids,” as my boos at the root beer stand where I worked used to say. “Darn, kids.” Who are some of the piracy perpetrators? Some are the children of the Dutch outfits Wolters Kluwer and Elsevier. Others are kids of government employees. Some are student who will grow up to be executives in the Dutch government. At least we know that 45 percent of the Dutch Web users can find content. Encouraging? Discouraging? Ask the parents, I suppose.

Stephen Arnold, January 30, 2009


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