In an informal poll conducted by NewYork Magazine in 2012, two interns conducted sidewalk interviews of one-hundred random sidewalk interviews about file sharing. Nearly everyone polled admitted to engaging in file sharing—and, interestingly enough, a majority said they also subscribed to iTunes or Netflix, sites that offer either music or movies for a monthly fee. It would seem that file sharing can co-exist with pay subscription services that offer the same content. Yet, the reality is quite different. This poll was taken the same year after several highly publicized events involving file sharing.
In January, 2012 the FBI raided the file-sharing site Megaupload. Criminal charges were brought against the owners who went to prison. A few months later, the founders of the notorious BitTorrent file sharing site Pirate Bay were sentenced to prison terms in Sweden. That same year, massive public protests against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property ACT (PIPA), both directed against P2P file sharing, led to the scrapping of both Acts without a vote in either the House or Senate. Wikipedia, Google and other sites held one day moratoriums to protest the two Acts, while members of Congress were inundated with e-mail protests. The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) was essentially scrapped in 2012 when many countries in the European Union refused to ratify the Agreement because of massive e-mail and 1960s-style street protests in Romania, Germany and other European countries.
File sharing was certainly a hot topic in 2012!
What was amazing is how quickly the activists mobilized to protest SOPA in the United States and ACTA in Europe. The protesters numbered in the hundreds of thousands, even millions. The word was spread through a handful of grassroots coalitions that spread the news on the Internet.