Study: 86% Would Pay For P2P

Swedish survey shows interest in legal file sharing

Different study, similar results. The Swedish Performing Rights Society (STIM) has released a study titled "Pirates, File-Sharers and Music Users" that reaffirms the lures of P2P and, for a change, attempts to put a price on users' willingness to pay for legal and unlimited downloads. Free access, ease of use and portability were cited as top reasons for using P2P. Though responses varied by age and other factors, many respondents said they would be willing to pay between roughly $6 and $17 in monthly fees for a legal P2P service.

STIM surveyed 1,123 Swedes via an online questionnaire. (Sweden is the home of BitTorrent tracking site The Pirate Bay as well as a fairly relaxed attitude about copyright infringement.) Half have a digital music collection of over 1,000 songs. A majority had paid for less than half of their digital music collections.

More than 86% of respondents would be interested in paying a voluntary fee for legal P2P (52% were very interested, 35% were somewhat interested). Just over 5% had no interest in such a plan. The greatest disinterest for such a plan came from people with the largest digital music collections and the third of people who had paid for less than 10% of their digital music collections.

When asked how much they would be willing to pay, 51.8% said between SEK 50 ($5.84) and SEK 150 ($17.53) per month. Nearly one in five -- 18.8% -- would consider paying between SEK 150 and SEK 300 ($35.08). Over one in five -- 21.7% -- would pay less than SEK 50 per month.

Streaming services are widely hoped to be a replacement for illegal file-sharing. The STIM survey indicates streaming does not satisfy the needs of a good portion of Swedish file sharers -- 80.5% say collecting music and having off-line access to a music collection are important to them. In the future, listeners will be connected more often and off-line access should not be as great a concern. For now, though, streaming is only a part-time solution for illegal file-sharing. Portability is another important aspect for these file-sharers as 90.3% said they desire to transfer music files to be able to listen elsewhere.

Attempts at converting P2P users to legitimate services tend to fail because they do not address the main reasons people use P2P applications. People use P2P, according to the study, because it's free, it's simple and there are no limits on devices to which files can be transferred. DRM, therefore, is not in line with P2P users' desired product features. Some legal P2P services, such as the newly relaunched Qtrax, lack the ease of use that makes an application like Limewire so attractive. Users do not want to jump through hoops. Legal alternatives tend to be poorly designed and do not account for this desired characteristic.

Nearly half (47%) of the STIM survey respondents were of age 30 or older, 18% were younger than 18 and 35% were between the ages of 18 and 29. Two third of respondents were men. Just under half (44%) have never used a P2P application while 34% had tried Spotify, 32% had used, 4.7% had used Deezer, 3.3% had used Imeem and 2.9% had used Seeqpod. Over half (56%) said they listen to music on their computers very often, 25% listen very often on a portable MP3 player and 19% very often on their mobile phone.

The STIM survey findings are similar to those of a 2008 study of U.K. music consumers by the University of Hertfordshire and British Music Rights. In that study of predominantly teenage music users, 74% said they were interested in a legal P2P service. Interest in such a service was 80% for P2P users and 63% for those who did not use P2P. Only 35% of respondents said they were interested in a file-streaming service that did not allow for ownership of a permanent copy of files. In this survey, the average digital music collection was 842 files and 52% of them had been paid for.