In June, police across several countries raided the operators of streaming video links portal Kino.to. This massive operation was one of the largest of its type and site admins and users alike were branded as enemies of the TV and movie business. However, it now appears that in respect of the latter group, the opposite was found to be true.
The June raids against Kino.to, which involved as many as 250 police and other authorities, dwarfed even the 2006 raids against The Pirate Bay.
Following the event the Kino.to site displayed notices which stated that the site had been “closed on suspicion of forming a criminal organization to commit professional copyright infringement.” While noting that several operators of the site had been arrested, it also criticized the site’s users.
“Internet users who illegally pirated or distributed copies of films may be subjected to a criminal prosecution,” read the warning.
But were the site’s users all criminals hell-bent on destroying the movie industry? According to a report from Telepolis, a recent study found the reverse was true.
The study, which was carried out by Society for Consumer Research (GfK), found that users of pirate sites including Kino.to did not fit the copyright lobby-painted stereotype of parasites who take and never give back.
In fact, the study also found that Internet users treat these services as a preview, a kind of “try before you buy.”
This, the survey claims, leads pirate site users to buy more DVDs, visit the cinema more often and on average spend more than their ‘honest’ counterparts at the box office.
“The users often buy a ticket to the expensive weekend-days,” the report notes.
In the past similar studies have revealed that the same is true for music. People who pirate a lot of music buy significantly more music than those who don’t.
Obviously it would be of great interest to see the report in full, but it appears that is not going to be possible. According to an anonymous GfK source quoted by Telepolis, the findings of the study proved so unpleasant to the company that commissioned the survey that it has now been locked away “in the poison cupboard.”
GfK says it has a policy of not revealing who they conduct research for if their clients don’t want to be exposed. However, they do carry out research for the movie industry. Telepolis go a stage further and call that work “lobbying”.
The GfK source says that the study shows “If you download films, you have an increased interest in the cinema”, which only highlights how stupid it would be for the authorities to carry out their implied threat of prosecuting Kino.to users.
You know, I remember reading a few years back that the real reason the music and movie industries were so up in arms about torrents and file sharing sites was that they were an alternate distribution method that could potentially cut them out of the business.
This seems to support that theory.