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London, Stationers’ Hall, April 11th, 2014, 3-6pm


Click to access the full report in PDF.

Using systematic reviewing techniques drawn from the medical sciences, a team of behavioural economists and psychologists from the University of East Anglia (Dr Steven James Watson*, Prof. Daniel John Zizzo and Dr Piers Fleming) undertook a scoping review of all evidence published between 2003-2013 into the welfare implications and determinants of unlawful file sharing. Articles on unlawful file sharing for digital media including music, film, television, videogames, software and books, were methodically searched; non-academic literature was sought from key stakeholders and research centres. 54,441 sources were initially found with a wide search and were narrowed down to 206 articles which examined human behavior, intentions or attitudes.

Whether unlawful file sharing confers a net societal cost or benefit to welfare remains unclear based on the available evidence, with both of the approaches employed – (1) looking at the association between sales and unlawful file sharing, and (2) examining people’s willingness to pay with and without the possibility of unlawful file sharing – suffering from serious limitations. This conclusion casts doubt on approaches which strengthen the civil enforcement system to meet the challenges of the internet revolution, at least without clearer evidence of demonstrable benefits of specific measures.

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The study has developed a utility framework to understand potentially relevant factors whether to engage in unlawful downloads, legal purchases (or neither). They include financial and legal utility – where the civil enforcement system is clearly potentially relevant – as well as unrelated aspects such as experiential utility, technical utility, social utility, and moral utility. The findings of our scoping review have been visualised in a cubic space where the number of sources of evidence identified for each proposed determinant of unlawful file sharing are split according to evidence type and specific media. It demonstrates that our current knowledge of file sharing is dramatically skewed by method and sector.

The unlawful file sharing debate seems to have been predominantly determined by evidence from music files. Movies and software are a distant second. There is very little on videogames, books, or TV content. However, there is evidence to suggest that the determinants and welfare implications of one medium may not apply equally to another. Therefore there is a danger in basing policy decisions upon evidence heavily biased toward a single medium.

The vast majority of the studies found in the scoping review employ cross sectional survey studies which make attributions of causality extremely difficult. Furthermore, the scoping review also shows the comparative scarcity of studies that employ observed behavior as a measured outcome, whether from the experimental laboratory or from the natural world. This is a problem, particularly as there is often a gap in findings between studies that use behavior and studies that do not. In the context of financial and legal utility, we find that as new enforcement laws are introduced, there is limited behavioural data which could confirm a causal effect, particularly in the long term.

There is a definite need for more experimental economic and longitudinal samples capable of identifying causality links and starting to assess the potential of policy changes to affect unlawful file sharing behaviour. There is also a need to explore, more systematically, a wider spectrum of markets, as copyright frameworks do not normally differentiate across markets. Policies and assessments purely considered in terms of music files, or even a combination of music files and movies, may not be fit for purpose when considering other markets. Better evidence-based policy is needed.

* Dr Steven Watson is now at Lancaster University.


The report was launched on April 11 at the Stationers’ Hall, London, in the midst of a large distinguished gathering of creative industry representatives, policy makers, creators and academics.

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Panel Discussion

The programme also featured a panel discussion with speakers from creative economy sectors such as music, publishing, film/broadcasting, games, as well as intermediaries and users as respondents to the report.

Chair: Alison Brimelow, CBE, former CEO, UK IPO; former President, EPO
Music sector: Robert Ashcroft (PRS for Music)
TV/ Broadcasting/ Films sector: John Mcvay (PACT)
Intermediaries: Theo Bertram (Google)
Civil Society: Jim Killock (Open Rights Group)
Cross-Industry Alliance: Dominic Young (Copyright Hub)

1400 – 1500: Registrations start.
1400 onwards: Display of CREATe Digital Resources.
3pm – 3.10pm: Welcome by CREATe Director, Martin Kretschmer.
3.10pm – 3.40pm: Launch of File Sharing Report by Steven Watson, Daniel Zizzo & Piers Fleming (CREATe UEA).
3.40pm – 4.30pm: Panel chaired by Alison Brimelow (Chair, CREATe Programme Advisory Council).
4.30pm – 5.00pm: Open discussion and questions from the floor.
5.00pm – 6.00pm: Networking over drinks.

Stakeholders Meeting

The launch was also an opportunity for CREATe stakeholders, including those from industry, civil society and user groups, to interact face-to-face with CREATe researchers and academics as well as discuss progress of CREATe research themes. Members of the CREATe Programme Advisory Council were in attendance.

Press Coverage and Social Media Reactions (  )

Audio Clip from BBC Good Morning Scotland, 11 April, 6.40am
Martin Kretschmer (CREATe), Martin Brown (Equity)

Audio Clip from BBC Radio Norfolk, 11 April, 4.00pm
Daniel Zizzo (CREATe) in conversation with Matthew Gudgin (BBC)

Images Gallery

Event Text Transcript, Videos and Audio


Please click here to read a full text transcript and hear the audio of the event.

Attendees Registered (It is our policy to publicly display names of all attendees registered for events organized or hosted by CREATe, if you have any queries, please mail contact@create.ac.uk).

  • Robin Smith
    National Library of Scotland

  • Simon Stokes
    Blake Lapthorn

  • Steven Watson
    Lancaster University

  • Till Sommer
    Political Intelligence

  • Judith Sullivan

  • Fred Saunderson
    National Library of Scotland

  • Eleonora Rosati

  • Richard Paterson

  • Ian moss

  • Andres Guadamuz
    University of Sussex

  • Sheona Burrow
    Create/University of Glasgow

  • George Barker
    Australian National University

  • Hayleigh Bosher
    CIPPM, Bournemouth University

  • Hannah Goodier
    The Copyright Hub

  • Nick Appleyard
    Technology Strategy Board

  • Mira Sundara Rajan
    University of Glasgow

  • Emily Laidlaw

  • Victoria Stobo
    University of Glasgow

  • Theo Bertram

  • Tom Phillips
    University of Edinburgh

  • Lilian Edwards

  • Sukhpreet Singh
    CREATe, University of Glasgow

  • Ruth Towse
    Bournemouth University

  • Ronan Deazley
    University of Glasgow

  • Robert Ashcroft
    PRS for Music

  • Roger Burt
    Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys

  • Piers Fleming

  • Nick Fenner

  • Nicola Coppola
    Bournemouth University

    University of Bournemouth

  • Maurice Samuel

  • Martin Kretschmer
    University of Glasgow

  • Monica Horten

  • Yin Harn Lee

  • Kristofer Erickson
    University of Glasgow

  • Kenny Barr
    University of Glasgow

  • John Mcvay

  • Jim Killock
    Open Rights Group

  • Jerome Ma

  • Jeanette Hofmann

  • Heather Williams
    Arts & Humanities Re

  • Christian Handke
    Erasmus University Rotterdam

  • Richard Arnold

  • Elena Cooper
    CREATe, Glasgow University

  • Dominic Young
    The Copyright Hub

  • Dinusha Mendis
    Bournemouth University

  • Diane McGrattan
    CREATe University of Glasgow

  • Derek McAuley
    University of Nottingham

  • Daniel John Zizzo
    University of East Anglia

  • Tony Clark
    PPL UK

  • Ben Pester
    Goldsmiths, University of London

  • Bartolomeo Meletti
    Bournemouth University

  • Burkhard Schafer
    University of Edinburgh

  • Andrew McHugh
    University of Glasgow CREATe

  • Alison Brimelow
    CREATe Programme Advisory Council

  • Katherine Hurrell
    King's College London

  • Thilo Werle
    Political Intelligence

  • Wendy M Grossman
    Freelance writer

  • Tania Phipps-Rufus
    University of Goldsmiths/CREATe

  • Melanie Dulong de Rosnay
    CNRS / LSE

  • Slav Slavov
    Queen Mary University

  • Anastasia Troshkova

  • Pavla Meszarosova

  • Eloise Meller
    Economic and Social Research Council

  • Christopher Oldknow
    Oldknow Associates

  • Angela McRobbie
    Goldsmiths University

  • catherine pocock
    Queen Mary

  • Stasa Racnik
    Queen Mary University, London

  • Magdalena Rathmann
    IP LLM Student

  • Joanna Huddleston

  • Chris Garstka
    University of Nottingham

  • Nick Boydell
    Bird & Bird

  • Tom Rivers
    Rivers Consultancy

  • Katie Webb

  • Martim Barata
    King's College London

  • Susie Winter
    Alliance for Intellectual Property

  • Tanya Aplin
    King's College London

  • Eddy Leviten

  • John Enser

  • Will Page

  • Flora Greenwood

  • Andrew Orlowski
    The Register

  • Alan Gallery

  • Adrian Brazier

  • James Nurton
    Managing IP

  • Conor O'Kane
    Bournemouth University

  • Aislinn O'Connell

  • Dennis Collopy
    University of Hertfordshire

  • Sally Anne Gross

  • Philip Leith
    School of Law, Queen's University of Belfast

  • Frances Lowe
    PRS for Music

  • Adam Webb

  • Thomas Underhill
    University of Derby

  • Dimitris Triantafillakis

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