Finnish library lending survey

Subject: Finnish library lending survey
From: Heikki Poroila (
Date: la 22 kesä   1996 - 00:20:58 EEST

Dear ecup-list subscribers,

The enclosed English translation of the Finnish survey concerning the lending of
recorded music in public libraries was distributed among the ECUP Steering
Group members by Heikki Poroila, Music LibrarianVaanta City Library. This
survey shows that the lending of music by public libraries does not frustrate the
economic interests of the music industry to the extend as they try us to believe.

Best wishes,
Emanuella Giavarra
- Lending of recorded music in public libraries –
A Finnish survey

by Heikki Poroila

   Did you know, what the people are doing with the CD's they
borrow from public libraries? You didn't? Well, not a big surprise,
since so few have tried to make surveys to find out, what's really
happening. The record companies have complained for decades
about huge losses of money, because people can borrow new CD's
for free and make copies of their own instead of buying these CD's.
On the other hand, music librarians have claimed to have promoted
music and the record companies' products for decades for free,
and that anything public libraries do, means support to general music
activities in societies.

   In Finland the composer's copyright organisation Teosto decided
in 1995 to have a survey made about lending activities in public
music libraries. Background to this decision was the need to gather
information, which would support Teosto's claim to get an equal
position to composers with authors of books, who now get some
compensation for the public lending right.

   This survey's objective was to study (1) the motives behind
borrowing of sound recordings, (2) annual volumes of this activity,
and (3) copying habits of these borrowers. The actual survey was
carried out by Marketing Radar Ltd, whos 32 trained
employees interview 4556 Finnish citizens during the autumn 1995
(The whole population in Finland is about 5 million). Results were
ready in the beginning of 1996, but Teosto has not been interested in
publishing the final report. The Finnish Music Library Association
was however allowed to present a summary of the results.
This summary was published in Intervalli 1996:1, the journal of the
Finnish Music Library Association.

   The following is a shortened translation of this summary, and it is
meant to the international audience. For those who are not familiar
with the Finnish public library system, it might be good to know, that
there is at least one public library in each municipality of Finland. An
average Finn borrows about 17 books and other things each
year (the highest figures are more than 30 books per year). There
are some music recordings in most of the 500 Finnish public
libraries, but only about 100 of them are regarded as modern music
libraries with good services. These 100 libraries cover, however,
two thirds of the whole population.

1. General

   Only 14% of the interviewed people had borrowed records from
a (public) library during the last year, while 94% had borrowed
books and magazines, and 4% printed music. This means that the
actual group of music borrowers in this survey consisted of 534
people. Of these only 110 (2,4% of all the interviewed people)
reported also to have made audio copies of the borrowed

   Less than half of the borrowers visited the library at least once a
month. Every tenth borrower made a visit twice a month or more
often. Four out of five borrowed only 1-3 recordings per visit, the
most active users (usually more than 10 recordings per visit) form a
small minority of all borrowers.

   The socio-economic structure of this music borrowers' group was
as follows: [this table is not what it looks like on paper!]

13-17 15%
18-24 22%
25-34 26%
35-49 27%
> 50 10%

Directors etc. 15%
Lower officials 21%
Workers 19%
Students 33%
Others 9%

In full-time job 46%
In part-time job 6%
Unemployed 48%

Annual income
< 20000 22%
< 30000 17%
< 40000 15%
> 40000 20%No answer 26%

Type of living area
Helsinki metropolitan area 23%
Cities Turku & Tampere 6%
Cities over 30000 inh. 25%
Cities under 30000 inh. 18%
Countryside 27%

2. Selected results

Primary motives for borrowing sound recordings were
* For own or family listening (70%)
* For own listening and for possible taping (17%)
* For taping only (4%)
* For checking before possible buying (4%)

Secondary motives were
* For no special reason [Just for fun?] (38%)
* For own or family listening (26%)
* For own listening and for possible taping (12%)
* For checking before possible buying (12%)
* For taping only (9%)
* "Sound recordings are too expensive to buy" (4%)

  Half of the borrowers were aware of the fact, that in Finland it is
legal to make a copy or two of a borrowed recording for private

  More than half (of the copying 110 interviewed persons) usually
copies the whole recording, while one third is happy with just some
parts of the recordings.

 Primary motives for home taping were (110 answers, multiple
answers were allowed):
* Buying all the wanted records would have been too expensive
* To avoid the buying of the wanted records (34%)
* Not all records wanted are available (16%)
* Just smaller parts of the records were needed/wanted (12%)
* Needed in daily job (4%)
* Practicing with copied parts of some compositions (3%)

  Top ten list of musical genres among the borrowers was:
* Foreign pop & rock (54%)
* Finnish pop & rock (40%)
* Classical music (37%)
* Children's music (22%)
* Finnish entertainment music (20%)
* Foreign entertainment music (15%)
* Blues & jazz (15%)
* Ethnic music (9%)
* Religious & other musical genres (7%)

  One third of the borrowers reported to have bought a record or
records, which they had earlier borrowed from the library. About
15% said they had bought more than 3 such records. One third
reported that they had decided not to buy some records after
hearing them.

  Buying of blank tape cassettes is not as usual as one might expect.
Almost 30% of the borrowers did not buy them at all, and another
third bought not more than 5 cassettes per year. Only 15% bought
over 10 cassettes every year.

  Buying of CD's, LP's and pre-recorded cassettes was also asked.
Surprisingly one third could not answer at all or had not bought any
recordings during last year. Another third had bought 1-5 records
per year.

3. Some personal conclusions

  The Finnish library users borrow about 5 million sound recordings
(music) each year. That makes one record per each Finnish citizen.
Nobody knows, how many tape copies are made of these
borrowed records in the end.
   Only about 20% of the people who borrow sound recordings
from public libraries, are doing any copying with them. Reported
motives for making copies are mostly economical ones (not enough
money or just trying to save the money for something more

  Some people borrow sound recondings in order to make copies of
the recordings, no doubt about that. But the basic question is; do
these copies really mean economical losses for the record
   Music librarians know, that most borrowers are ordinary music
lovers, who just want to listen to the music they like. They buy CD's,
but sometimes they make copies of borrowed CD's, too. But it is
one thing to admit and understand, that some people do collect
music making tape copies, if suitable source material is available, and
another thing is to assume, that these copies are automatically out of
the record companies surplus.

  In some cases the borrowers are able to avoid buying of the
material they would otherwise had to have bought themselves. But
these cases are not so numerous that the music industry likes to
think. There are obvious reasons for this.
   First there are the people, who are simply too poor to buy all or
any of the records they want to hear (or own). Public lending service
is valuable for them, because it is the only way to get that music.
They are not potential record buyers at all.
   Second reason is the enthusiasm of real music lovers. They want
to have the best music permanently. If they do have enough money,
they buy those beautiful packages with liner notes, pictures and the
rest. People simply love to buy and own original recordings, and that
is why they make copies only for certain reasons.

   Probably the most important single reason is the unavailability of
so many products. Libraries have collected thousands and thousands
titles which have been deleted from the record companies
catalogues. Large library collections are irreplaceable for any
music lovers.
   Quite many people make tape copies just to be able to listen to
the music in car or somewhere else, where they do not have a CD
player available. They are not necessarily storing these copies for a
long time.

  The great majority of all borrowers of libraries' sound recording do
not make copies at all. The great majority of the copies that are
made of borrowed records do not compete with the commercial
distribution. While the libraries offer some people the possibility to
avoid record buying, they are at the same time making powerful
promoting and advertising for the record industry, composers and
performers. The value of this promotion is hard to express in exact
figures, but it certainly is there.
  If the record industry still claims to lose money because of the
public library lending, they should prove their claim with reliable
surveys. This Finnish survey leads one to wonder, if the record
industry is too afraid of the results to find out, what is really
happening. Why there are so few surveys about this subject?

  Music librarians do not see the record industry and libraries as
competitors, but as parts of the cultural distribution system. Making
music and information about music available is in the interest of both
parts, though for different reasons. Copyrights and right owners'
moral rights are not threatened by the library services or private
copying. The real threat – and probably the only one outside the
record companies own decision making – is the professional and
international piracy.
    Attacking libraries' lending right should not be a substitute for
frustrating anti-piracy acts. Library lending is an important cultural
service, which is not working against right owners' interests.

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