IP Outreach Research > IP Use and Awareness


Title: Looking for Leadership: Canadian Attitudes Toward Intellectual Property
Author: [Environics Research Group]


Year: 2008


Subject/Type: IP Knowledge, IP Protection
Focus: Copyright, Economic / Financial Impact, Enforcement, Outreach / Education
Country/Territory: Canada
Objective: To examine Canadian attitudes toward intellectual property protection.
Sample: 2.724 randomly selected Canadians aged 15+
Methodology: In-home, self completion questionnaire

Main Findings

The study identified three groups with distinct attitudes towards intellectual property (IP) and downloading, collectively representing about half of the Canadian population: firstly, representing 16% of Canadians, the "moralists" (who refuse piracy and illegal downloading categorically, which they consider a serious crime, and whose strong moral convictions make them very unlikely to abuse IP, even in the absence of official rules); secondly, representing 5% of Canadians, the "unrepentant downloaders" (who feel no compunction about illegal downloading and abusing IP, which they consider "not a very serious crime", and whose focus on new and exciting experiences drives them to do what they want, regardless of the rules); thirdly, representing 25% of Canadians, the "impressionables" (who are aware of the economic importance of IP and support strong IP laws, but nevertheless consider piracy "not a serious crime", and who rely on cues from others - peers, government, employers, parents - to know what behaviour is acceptable and what is not).

Given the strong influence of the social context on the third group, the authors highlight that political leadership and clear rules (a sound legal and economic framework) are crucial in shaping a society in which the impressionables sense that the abuse of IP is no longer tolerated.

Overall, the vast majority of Canadians (83%) believes that IP deserves the same respect and protection (from theft) as other, more tangible, physical goods. Nine in ten Canadians agree that "strong patent, copyright and trademark laws are required to protect those who create intellectual property for a period of time so that they can sell of commercialise their ideas before competitors are allowed to copy their creations".

Apart from their support voiced for the creation and enforcement of laws that protect IP, most respondents (82%) also support a proactive government role in educating Canadians about the need to respect intellectual property, particularly online.

Canadians believe that respect for creative work should be fostered among young people (which are found to be considerably more permissive with regard to plagiarism and cheating, when compared to Canadians overall). Accordingly, Canadians overwhelmingly agree that parents should actively promote responsible online behaviour: the beliefs that "parents should teach their children how to use the Internet in a responsible fashion" (93%) and that "parents should be responsible for monitoring the use of the Internet by their children" (91%) are almost universally accepted. Nearly two in three respondents (64%) support holding parents accountable if their children engage in illegal downloading.

When asked about the link between IP and economic success, 93% of respondents agree that "the creation of IP is essential for Canada's long-term economic growth and prosperity". More than 80% recognise the role of material incentives in encouraging IP creation, agreeing that "those who create intellectual property would have little incentive to do so if competitors could immediately copy and sell the creations as their own".

The consensus in Canadian society about the value, the need for protection, and the economic importance of IP is very broad, with remarkably little variation in opinion according to political affiliations.

[Date Added: Aug 18, 2008 ]