In all the debates about file sharing it is sometimes assumed that people have a defined sense of what copyright is and are acting in violation of that definition; or, at least in violation of the שבע מצוות בני נח, the seven Noahide laws. To test these assumptions, in the summer of 2006, Karl Fogel of Chicago took a camera around and asked people a series of questions about copyright. The resulting (edited) 10 minute video may be seen here. It starts out a bit slow with the opening question, but then it picks up.
Mr. Fogel details his findings on his website:
In order to document the public perception of copyright today, we went around Chicago with a video camera over two days in the summer of 2006, asking strangers what they think copyright is for, how it got started, how they feel about filesharing, and for any other thoughts they have on copyright. We didn't tell the interviewees about this website or the nature of our project until after each interview was over. The points that show up consistently are: Most people felt that copyright is mainly about credit, that is, about preventing plagiarism. Everyone was on the artist's side — everyone wants to feel that they're treating the artists right. Over and over again, we heard the sentiment that when someone goes to a concert they'll buy the CD "to support the band", even if they already have all those songs on their computer already. Many people felt that copyright was about giving creators the means to make a living, but that in recent times it's been abused and corrupted by corporate interests. No one — not even the interviewee who had just read a book on copyright — knew where copyright comes from. Most people had the feeling it had been around for a while, though estimates varied widely on how long. One interviewee knew of the Constitutional clause that is the legal basis for copyright in the United States, but wasn't familiar with the history leading up to that clause.
People were ambivalent about filesharing. They don't feel like it hurts anyone, except perhaps the music distributors, but they still feel some residual guilt about it anyway.
One senses strong internal conflict here supporting the labels' assumption about filesharing: interviewees expressed a desire to be on artists' side, but rationalized file sharing because it is believed to only hurt the labels: hence the residual guilt. Whether file sharing in fact does result in systemic harm is, of course, contested as seen in the recent Canadian reports finding it doesn't.