Categories · Research Practices in Media and Communication

Research Proposal: Illegal Downloading

My research paper is on the topic of illegal downloading, while this is a sensitive subject, I believe there is some very useful information to be analysed through this research that can be obtained without infringing any kind of ethical standard and in such a way that does not incriminate people who participate in the study. I am very much an online person, I work to produce online content for my job, I spend my leisure time online and a lot of my university work involves some kind of online presence. Thus I am very interested in the topic of illegal downloading and the consequences it has on society. I am sure it effects nearly everyone in some manner, whether they participate or not, and I think it’s important to gauge in just what respect it impacts people’s lives. My proposed question is as follows “Does illegal downloading have a negative impact on society?” However many more stimulant questions will be asked in the focus group to gauge their feelings surrounding different respects in which ‘illegal download’ exists, and their thoughts on the matter. In my preliminary readings I deduced that the media often ‘demonizes’ or portrays illegal downloading in a harsh negative view, often victimizing companies like Netflix and other VoD’s (video on demand) services (see article 1). However there are cases (see article 2) that portray illegal downloading as merely an issue to be solved, and focus on the progress made to rectifying it. However there were no articles talking about how the public feels about it, often using quotes from companies like Netflix to make broad statements about why the people download illegally, claims which lack any evidence and are from a very specific perspective. I plan to use a focus group to gauge general thoughts around the topic, and then surveys to try and corroborate information gained through the focus group. This research will provide a fairly accurate representation on the how the public feels about piracy and illegal downloading and could be used to further research into what could be done about the issue. This is an important topic of concern as it involves 43% of the Australian population according to a survey made by the Australian Government (see article 3). With such a large amount of Australian citizens participating in the issue, it is important to research how (at least some) of them feel about the matter.

Both the surveys and focus groups will be completely anonymous, only select information provided willingly by the participants will be published, this information will include age, gender and occupation, however if the participant doesn’t want to disclose this information, his/her insights will still be recorded, but no personal information will be recorded with their opinion. Participants will never be asked if they themselves have been involved in illegal downloading, as the information is irrelevant to the research question not to mention incriminating, additionally if this information is shared freely without question (for example in the focus group’s discussions or in the survey participants comments) this information will not be recorded or published in any way. Participants (both of the survey and focus group) will be given a form to disclose the purpose of the research and the information that will be published about them in the final paper, as well as where it will be published, and where I can be contacted if they feel like changing their opinion of different questions. However one change of opinion might not warrant a change in the results published. The actual survey will be produced using SurveyMonkey, a free, online resource for creating surveys quickly and easily. Because it’s online and many people have used it before it will be easier to distribute than a paper survey. Choosing people for my focus group will be done by asking a large group of people of mixed gender, race and religion if they would like to participate, and then choosing 5 males and 5 females at random to accurately represent Australia’s population.


Article 1: Demonising Illegal downloading
Village Roadshow threat to sue pirates and block downloading websites, AUGUST 27, 20159:17AM

Article 2: Neutral
Why the drop in illegal movie downloads in Australia? October 15, 2015 2.27pm AEDT

Article 3: Stats
Illegal downloading throttles Australia, THE AUSTRALIANJULY 22, 2015 12:25PM


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