Consumer survey on copyright access barriers

Access to Knowledge: Reports of Campaigns and Research 2008-2010The biggest barriers that consumers face in accessing copyright works are those created by copyright law. Even so, consumers around the world will choose original copyright works over pirated copies, provided that they are available at an affordable price.

These are amongst the findings from a global survey of consumers conducted by Consumers International (CI), conducted in 13 languages and covering 15,000 consumers across 24 countries. The survey was designed to determine what obstacles consumers faced in gaining access to educational and cultural materials and software.

CI found that consumers, even in developing countries, would be more likely to buy original rather than pirated copies of copyright works, if they provided high quality at a low enough cost. For those who could not afford to buy, borrowing offered an alternative – but particularly in developing countries, access to libraries is limited and the works they carry are few.

Whilst the means to copy and use copyright works were accessible to most consumers, others reported problems with digital locks and with limitations on the ability to access works at their time and place of choice.

Part of the solution to the access barriers that consumers face is the wider use of open content, such as Open Educational Resources (OER) and free and open source software (FOSS). Our survey found that most consumers are aware of these alternatives, and ready to give them a try.

But the rest of the solution to the access gap lies in the hands of governments and the private sector, who need to address consumers' needs for lower cost original materials to buy, borrow and access online.

Download now in English (as the first two chapters of our book Access to Knowledge for Consumers: Reports of Campaigns and Reports 2008-2010), Español or Français (as stand-alone reports).

National outputs

In addition to the main report, some of the CI members who participated in the global survey have provided their own individual country reports. Available here are country reports from:

  • Brazil (from PRO TESTE, Rio de Janeiro)
  • India (from CERC, the Consumer Education and Research Centre)
  • Israel (from our researchers there supported by the Israel Consumer Council)

First phase results

The first phase of the consumer survey, conducted during the second quarter of 2009, gathered evidence of consumers’ actual experience in trying to access and use materials in three areas covered by copyright: educational materials, software, films and music. Rather than focusing exclusively on legal barriers to the access and use of these materials, the survey also sought to uncover evidence of other access barriers faced by consumers.

This first phase involved face-to-face interviews with over 150 consumers in 20 countries, to ascertain the nature of the barriers they faced in accessing and using copyright material. This first phase was an agenda-setting exercise for the development of a more detailed questionnaire that would be administered more widely in the second phase. The research outline and a handbook for conducting the first stage of the research (in English and Spanish) are available for download below.

An interim report on the first phase of the consumer survey, also available for download, was prepared as an input for the preparation of the second phase. Tentative conclusions suggested by the first phase research included that most consumers pay little attention to copyright laws (though greater attention seems to be paid in Africa than in Asia or Latin America), but that they may be willing to pay for legitimate goods over pirated alternatives because of their higher quality, if the price is reasonable.

Research Outline174.35 KB
Interview form and instructions159.21 KB
Instrucciones para la Primera Etapa de Investigación sobre barreras para acceder a Material con Derecho de Autor262.57 KB
Consumer survey analysis phase 1217.69 KB
Israel country report phase 2669.66 KB
India country report phase 2 (CERC)7.39 MB
Brazil country report phase 2 (PRO TESTE)84.87 KB

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