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Access to Knowledge for Consumers

Information Program grantee Consumers International has released the results of a global survey designed to expose the obstacles consumers face in gaining access to education and cultural materials. The survey was conducted in 13 languages, covering 15,000 consumers across 24 countries.

The survey found that "the biggest barriers that consumers face in accessing copyright works are those created by copyright law. Even so, consumers around the world will choose original copyright works over pirated copies, provided that they are available at an affordable price."

While borrowing from libraries and other cultural institutions provided a viable alternative for some consumers priced out of original copyrighted works, the survey found that, particularly in developing countries, “access to libraries is limited and the works they carry are few.” Although the authors of the survey saw “copyleft” initiatives like Open Educational Resources and Free and Open Source Software as great ways to help consumers vault access barriers, they concluded that governments needed to act “to address consumers’ needs for lower cost original materials to buy, borrow, and access online.”

The survey forms the first two chapters of Consumers International’s new report Access to Knowledge for Consumers: Reports of Campaigns and Research 2008-2010, which can be downloaded in PDF format. The survey results are also available in Spanish and French.

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