Last month the American Assembly, a non-partisan public policy forum associated with Columbia University, released a paper titled "Copyright Infringement and Enforcement in the US." That paper came to the conclusion that 15 percent of U.S. file-sharers hide their IP-addresses using proxies and virtual private networks. Researchers, who conducted 2,303 telephone interviews, also found that roughly half of all adults could be branded as pirates.
They also found that sharing files among friends and family is the most common form of copyright infringement, with a little over 13 percent of all respondents admitting to using some sort of file-sharing software such as BitTorrent to download content. They also found that file-sharing is more popular among the younger demographic.
The American Assembly shared additional data with TorrentFreak that revealed that 15 percent of file-sharers were hiding their identity online. The initial report had that number at 7 percent, for a reason not disclosed in the article. Those numbers equate to one in seven file-sharers in the US doing their business anonymously. Further analysis showed that younger adults between the ages of 18 and 24 say they share files anonymously, while less than 5 percent of file-sharers older than 44 years hide their IP-address.
VPN and proxy providers TorrentFreak spoke to about this subject say that they have seen "substantial growth throughout the past year." The leading BitTorrent VPN and proxy service BTGuard said that it doubled its customer-base during the past 12 months.
“BTGuard has been consistently growing since we started. Compared to 2010, we increased by around 200% in 2011. The growth has really picked up lately which I contribute to SOPA and other censorship efforts,” BTGuard’s founder says. "We grew 25% this month. If SOPA or something similar actually passes, the flood of Internet users seeking asylum from oppression would be staggering to say the least. Hopefully that doesn’t happen, the Internet is far more important to us then business.”
VPN and proxy use is also up in other regions around the world as well and with laws like SOPA and Protect IP in the US and stricter laws in France and the UK, we expect those numbers to grow substantially in 2012...