ConnectedFuture.org

Crowdsourced Agenda for Free Expression

Methodology

METHODOLOGY

 

Strategy & Research Design

 

The drag-and-drop tool questions were shaped by input from a diverse group of voices, each with a vested interest in seeing fair and balanced copyright rules for the 21st century. After analyzing comments submitted to our Internet Voice tool,1 our reddit AMA in March 2013,2 and our “RemixThis!”copyright cabaret launch event in May 2013 (with speakers Geof Glass, Martha Rans, Eric Ashdown, Kimberly Baker and Kirby Ferguson and active participation from an audience of 150),3 we then invited organizations to participate in one- to two-hour consultations (held either one-on-one or in groups) throughout the summer of 2013. We reached out to organizations and individuals from five target groups, each with different aspirations for sharing and creativity online: low-income advocacy organizations and non-profit ISPs; copyright experts; rural and community economic development organizations; online innovators and “new media” groups; and aboriginal and First Nations communities.4

We aimed to gather information about the ways in which copyright and conceptions of intellectual property factor into the daily lives of citizens around the world. We also consulted prior work on copyright policy, such as Article 19’s “Principles on Freedom of Expression and Copyright in the Digital Age” and the Authors Alliance’s “Principles and Proposals for Copyright Reform”. These consultations helped us isolate the core issues we wanted to address, and to draft an initial survey with 10 questions. The survey was then circulated to experts in the Fair Deal coalition, refined based on their input (mainly to better differentiate user preferences for varying policy instruments), and shortened (a question about notice versus takedown of blogs was dropped because it was unclear). Web development challenges with the creation of the online tool also necessitated small design changes, like switching the copyright term question from a slider to radio buttons.

 

Results

 

The final survey comprises nine questions, the first of which asks participants to rank six key principles of copyright policy in terms of priority. Submissions from the total of 40,079 respondents revealed the following priority rankings of the key principles in the development of copyright policy:

1. Protecting free expression

2. Clear and simple rules

3. Rules made democratically

4. Privacy safeguards

5. Compensation for creators & artists

6. Protection for media conglomerates

In determining the aggregate rankings, each priority level (1-6) was assigned a corresponding numerical value, ranging from 0.6 for Level 1 to 0.1 for Level 6. Submissions from the survey respondents were then evaluated according to this scale, leading to a cumulative priority index (pi) for each principle. The following bar chart (Graph 1) indicates the aggregate priority rankings for the respective principles of copyright policy.

The survey participants were then asked a set of questions pertaining to various aspects of copyright policy. Following is the breakdown of answers for each question. A total number of respondents (n) to each question is also indicated.

 

Data Collection & Analysis

 

By making the survey widely available, individuals who were interested in participating in the process were able to do so without being contacted with a direct email ask. In the end, there were 40,079 unique respondents to the survey, a majority of which were existing supporters of OpenMedia. Respondents to the survey also shared the tool through social media, thereby introducing elements of chain referral sampling into our total sample population. In total, 3,503 respondents (8.7 percent of the total sample) were recruited by respondents to the survey through social media.

The data collection period spanned from October 25th, 2013 to August 1st, 2014, after which the results were analyzed using free, open-source software (LibreOffice, PPSP, and MySQL). Answers to multiple choice questions were evaluated against the total number of respondents to the given question, as opposed to the total number of answers for the given question. Furthermore, answers to some enumerable questions were grouped together to help identify key themes in the survey’s results.

 

Limitations of our Methodology

 

Due to the respondents having the option to exit the survey at any time, without responding to each question, there were varying levels of participation in responding to each section of the drag-and-drop tool. Question 1 of the tool, which asked participants to rank a set of six priorities, received responses from the total 40,079 respondents, as it required a response from users before they could proceed. Other questions received varying numbers of responses, as detailed above and noted throughout the text of the report.

The sole demographic information collected by the survey pertained to the respondent’s country, with a total of 155 countries represented in the final sample population, so our sense of the limitations with regards to demographics is speculative. Aside from the limitations of a voluntary response bias introduced by our sampling method, the absence of an alternative mode of offline data collection likely further limited our sample population to users affluent enough to have easy access to the Internet, who were therefore able to use the web-based tool.

Age demographics may have also played a role in influencing participation. Assuming the survey participants’ demographics are similar to those of OpenMedia’s Facebook community, many individuals between 24-64 years of age are interested in the project, but those willing to get involved in actual discussion tend to be in the 35 – 45+ age group.

One major limitation of the project and survey was the lack of multilingual content, and therefore the lack of discussion and involvement from the full range of non-English-speaking Internet users. There are 12 countries presently negotiating the TPP, only four of which have a majority of English-speaking residents, and our tool was only available in English. Additionally, in those countries with English-speaking majorities, there are also sizeable communities speaking a language other than English. This lack is particularly limiting because it overlooks a large demographic of Internet users who would be subject to changes to copyright law under the TPP, but due to resource constraints we were unable to consult them with a multilingual version of the tool.