Majority of US citizens want search engines to block pirated content

By on January 21, 2013, 5:00 PM

The decision as to whether or not to block pirated movies and music from search results has been raging on for some time now. It is believed that Google received some 50 million link removal requests in 2012 – led by the Recording Industry Association of America, naturally. Now thanks to a new survey from American Assembly, we have some solid numbers on what web surfers would like to see done on the subject.

According to the Columbia University-based survey, 53 percent of respondents said they would like to see access to sites hosting pirated content blocked from search engine results. This comes from more than 2,000 US citizens via telephone interview in August 2011. The same survey also revealed that among German residents, 69 percent supported blocking such sites.

As Neowin points out, these results are just a small part of an overall larger survey on copy culture. It’s worth pointing out that the majority of those surveyed in the states believe it’s alright to share content they own among friends and family. When it comes to public sharing, however, most were against the practice.

The survey brings up an interesting question actually; perhaps one that a lot of our readers have never even considered. With that said, how often do you encounter links to pirated content while using your favorite search engine? Do you believe such content should remain a part of search results or would you rather see big names like Google and Microsoft block them completely?




User Comments: 27

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5 people like this | captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

So who'd they ask about this, upper middle class families that they already knew would give this answer?

1 person liked this | Littleczr Littleczr said:

Trash Survey!

3 people like this | m4a4 m4a4 said:

BS. No one wants content blocked for them...

2 people like this | captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

According to the Columbia University-based survey, 53 percent of respondents said they would like to see access to sites hosting pirated content blocked from search engine results. This comes from more than 2,000 US citizens via telephone interview in August 2011.
After which, 99% of respondents said, "I'm sorry, I have to get off the phone now, I need to go check on my download"......!:oops:

2 people like this | negroplasty negroplasty said:

Where did they take the poll? Senior day at the grocery store @ 5am?

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Where did they take the poll? Senior day at the grocery store @ 5am?
OK. Your phone rings, so you walk over and pick it up. Hello, you say? A voice says, do you think websites that offer illegal downloads should be blocked? You say, "why yes, of course they should.

I mean, after all, you have absolutely no ****ing idea whatsoever, who's on the other end of the phone.

Hell, they said they were from the university, for all you know, it could be the FBI.

So, the whole thing sounds like a trumped up bunch of BS funded by the RIAA /MPAA, (who of course made a generous contribution toward the new AV lab). Or, the whole thing is some lame a** excuse for a masters thesis from someone whose only chance to get out of college, is for their parents to phone in a bomb threat.:eek:

1 person liked this | Guest said:

Sounds like they called a bunch of people who don't know how the Internet works.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Sounds like they called a bunch of people who don't know how the Internet works.
Dude....."interweb"...., I-N-T-E-R-W-E-B....., "interweb"........!!

2 people like this | Adhmuz Adhmuz, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Since when does 2,000 people represent a country of 311 MILLION, 53% of those 2,000 means only 1,060 people are against piracy. I'm surprised it isn't higher, given the fact that most people will tell the answer that makes them look like a law abiding citizen regardless of the survey. They should have also further asked these people if they understand what piracy is or if they know how to do it. I'm almost positive the majority of the people who are against it have no idea what it is or how to actually do it. Americans are generally against stuff they don't understand, but its not only them, people in general are like that. Also age comes into play very quickly and the survey does take that into account, just it has been left out of the article here, maybe its an important thing to include? At any rate this survey is biased and I wouldn't considered it of any particular value. I'd wipe my backside with it if possible. But it would be a waste of both paper and ink to print it out.

veLa veLa said:

I'd stop using Google if they did that.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

I'd stop using Google if they did that.
I rather like to use Google exclusively, while I'm blocking their tracking cookies.

Sir Alex Ice Sir Alex Ice said:

So what exactly where they expected to say? That they want an illegal activity to be supported by search engines?

Gee, took them a long time to come up with this survey.

1 person liked this | PC nerd PC nerd said:

The majority of US citizens are retarded.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Since when does 2,000 people represent a country of 311 MILLION
Funny how I thought that was a representatives job within congress. Thats a maximum of 435 people representing everyone within the states. The question you should be asking is what qualifies them for that position. If you ask me nothing qualifies someone to represent one side, if the other side is going to be ignored in a final tally.

2 people like this | Edster said:

Since when does 2,000 people represent a country of 311 MILLION, 53% of those 2,000 means only 1,060 people are against piracy.

Not trying to sound too much of a snob but this is fundamental statistics, there is absolutely nothing wrong at all with the fact the asked 2000 people, in the actual article they would post the error margins they are working in, which shows the expected error of that 53%.

Put it quite simply, pretend you have a box of 2000 coins and you tip it on the floor. After 50 or so, you should be around 50% for heads and 50% for tails, and you can be confident that it is essentially 50% of both for all 2000 even if you don't count all of it, because that is just a waste of effort. If you are going to ask how accurate it is, you ask if that 2000 is representative of the population, and in many cases the answer is likely to be no. As who own landlines? Who answers the calls? And how was the question asked? Younger generation may not even own a landline. But there is nothing fundamentally wrong with using 2000 (which is an okay sample size) and use that to represent what the country thinks, if there isn't any bias in the survey itself (unlikely).

Bluewr Bluewr said:

I've had one of these phonecall, it was limiting violent media on prime time television.

When I asked to clarify a question, do you think that media are more violent now aday then in the past, they said, I said yes, and that I agree with their poll that violent media need to be curtailed on Prime time TV.

Aka. They already have an answer set, and will either only take in polls that agree or just fill it in for you.

Shawnonymous Shawnonymous said:

This post is based on falsified information and we all know it.

Now, go out and ask people from normal/lower class cities/townships and we'll see a completely different survey all together.

Whoever did the studies on this needs to go and yank one out.

1 person liked this | captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Funny how I thought that was a representatives job within congress. Thats a maximum of 435 people representing everyone within the states. The question you should be asking is what qualifies them for that position. If you ask me nothing qualifies someone to represent one side, if the other side is going to be ignored in a final tally.
Boy that just burns my butt, How can you sit here and and ask a question like, "what qualifies a politician for office". The ability to hire someone to write the most hateful TV ad about his opponent, that's WTF qualifies a person for office here in the great ol' U.S of A.. Remember, if you can't denigrate, degrade, detract from, render despicable, and most importantly demoralize your opponent during a simple campaign, then you're not fit to, "serve at the pleasure of the people"! (*)

(*) Although, as attested to by House Speaker John Beynard, it helps greatly to be able to "cry at will".

It's actually a genetic defect seen most often in Hollywood starlets, but Rep. Beynard uses it to his, (and of course his constituency's), great and mutual benefit!

treetops treetops said:

How about they ask people do you want your tax dollars spent combating piracy? I did phone surveys before they can be quite biased and yes they do know where they are calling, it is not random numbers. I never liked the idea that someone can survey 2,000 people then claim the results reflect on the entire nation.

Tygerstrike said:

Ok who really gives a damn about the margin of error. What should be concerning the pirates is that roughly 50% of Americans that were polled would like pirated content removed. How is that difficult to understand? And you cannot bring up a past phone interview as a benchmark for this poll. Unless you actually participated in this poll, you have no idea how the questions were presented nor if any follow up questions were required. Either way some ppl have spoken and they dont want pirated content on their searches. That is their right as a individual. I would be less butthurt over the poll, and a lot more hurt over the fact that this is a hot topic for the American consumer. Which means we will continue to see the internet curtailed. More internet "freedoms" removed from the ppl who use it.

1 person liked this | captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

OK first, there are a couple things you guys need to understand. First, they didn't call "2000 people". They called "TomSea" 2000 times. (*)

Second. in order to collect the "information" for this "survey", they cleaned out every bull pen in the the Chicago stockyards.

Then they called "Peter Pan Waste Management Services", who delivered the "materials" for distribution around the internet.

Oh BTW, before I wake up and forget, "Tinkerbelle" drove the dump truck..... (**)

(*) Sorry Tom, you know I have impulse control issues...:oops:

(**)Should you have any concerns, or complaints about this wanton transport of bio-hazardous materials, please contact Mr. Pan's claims agent, "Neverland Insurance LLC"....

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

And now boys and girls, and junior myth busters everywhere, our next challenge will be, checking the veracity of the story involving, "Little Red Riding Hood, and the Big, Bad, Wolf, er Pirate".....ARGH.....,that's going to be a tuff'un mateys!

Be sure to keep it tuned right here at, "Say it Ain't so Cranky, TV". Starting at midnight will be our adult offering, "Goldilocks and the Three Free Downloads"......:eek:

SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

So who'd they ask about this, upper middle class families that they already knew would give this answer?

Where did they take the poll? Senior day at the grocery store @ 5am?

So what exactly where they expected to say? That they want an illegal activity to be supported by search engines?

Gee, took them a long time to come up with this survey.

This post is based on falsified information and we all know it.

Now, go out and ask people from normal/lower class cities/townships and we'll see a completely different survey all together.

Whoever did the studies on this needs to go and yank one out.

[link] Is the published study that this article was written about. Pages 8 and 9 address the methodology and bottom of page 8 and page 9 addresses the uncertainty question on how people will answer questions where legality is involved (and how it compares on how you ask them: in person, phone, email) and what that does to this study. Pages 51-54 address in more detail age, income, and political leanings. Pages 63-64 address ethnicity/race.

Funding for this study came from Google.

Ok who really gives a damn about the margin of error. What should be concerning the pirates is that roughly 50% of Americans that were polled would like pirated content removed. How is that difficult to understand? And you cannot bring up a past phone interview as a benchmark for this poll. Unless you actually participated in this poll, you have no idea how the questions were presented nor if any follow up questions were required. Either way some ppl have spoken and they dont want pirated content on their searches. That is their right as a individual. I would be less butthurt over the poll, and a lot more hurt over the fact that this is a hot topic for the American consumer. Which means we will continue to see the internet curtailed. More internet "freedoms" removed from the ppl who use it.

That is a valid point. I just skimmed the paper, and saw how they responded to the 'question', but I did not see anywhere in the paper a script of what was asked, or what to do if the person being surveyed asks for clarification. Page 8 (methodology) does mention that some questions required 'considerable knowledge of or experience with the practices described". But, again, nowhere did I see a script or the actual questions.

I guess my point in this post is, this appears to be a pretty scientifically sound survey, and that many of the questions or "points" brought up in the comments here are addressed in the published paper. This was not just some half-ass phone survey conducted by someone trying to get a quick graduate degree.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

How about they ask people do you want your tax dollars spent combating piracy? I did phone surveys before they can be quite biased and yes they do know where they are calling, it is not random numbers. I never liked the idea that someone can survey 2,000 people then claim the results reflect on the entire nation.
Well. if they call me, I'm going to tell them I want my tax dollars spent on gala Inaugural balls....and BALLS I say, to those who would spend them on combating piracy..!

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Funding for this study came from Google.
Oh well, then it's OK, if it was Google.

After all, they have no vested interest in pushing "sponsored links" to the top, preserving bandwidth, or brown nosing the RIAA /MPPA to avoid being held liable for any illegal content.

IvanAwfulitch IvanAwfulitch said:

Here we have yet another case of sensationalism. The researchers set out to prove their point, whether it was a good point or not, and then proved it. Whether the responses were verified or not is not the issue here. The issue here is that it's just another study that these "internet police" are going to use to argue their case.

But is it a good argument? Obviously, no it isn't. The internet doesn't belong to 2000 unnamed people they got over the phone, it belongs to the billions of people using the web across the globe. Whatever the hell 2000 people said in the United States should mean jack squat in the overall scheme of things, not just because of how arrogant it is to suggest that 2000 people and a few researchers have the right to dictate what's shown on the web, but because the sample is nowhere near being representative of anything.

Google would be insane to listen to a very tiny and select demographic of self-reports aimed at something that nobody wants, whether it's pirated or no. It's against every possible issue of freedom of speech out and censorship out there. Until I see reports that the majority of US citizens ACTUALLY want this type of censorship, I won't take even a scrap of an argument as proof.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

not just because of how arrogant it is to suggest that 2000 people and a few researchers have the right to dictate what's shown on the web, but because the sample is nowhere near being representative of anything.
Which is how I feel about the House of Representatives. The proper term would be closer to the House of Mis-representatives. I will always be skeptical of any polls presented by a select few. Polls will always differ depending on which group of people you ask.

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