Illegal Downloading Up or Down?

telegraph.gifA survey from across the pond suggests that illegal music downloading has skyrocketed, at least in part because of the “democratizing” force of social networks. On the other hand, a survey earlier this year in the U.S. by the Business Software Alliance (BSA) and Harris Interactive found just the opposite. According to the BSA, illegal downloading has decreased significantly among 8- to 18-year-olds over the last three years. Why? Fear of downloading a computer virus (62%), fear of legal trouble (52%), fear of downloading spyware (51%) and fear of getting in trouble with mommy and daddy (48%).

I certainly can’t refute the findings of either survey, having not spent the time interviewing thousands of Internet users. However, I can add an anecdote from a lunch discussion I had last week. My favorite financial analyst related a story about an associate of his, an author and copyright expert, who spoke with many college students about their music downloading habits. Apparently it was a point of pride among these students that most of their music had never been paid for. It was actually embarrassing for them to admit it when they purchased a song.

Are these just the morals of our misbegotten youth? Or is this a trend starting with a new generation? (And yes, I really just wanted to use the phrase “misbegotten youth”)

4 thoughts on “Illegal Downloading Up or Down?”

  1. Mari – Did u lose a bet and have to use that phrase?? lol
    Seriously though, a lot of this can be linked to the parents of some of these kids who were d’loading “pirated” software during the 80’s and 90’s. And so their kids dont see anything wrong with it.
    Additionally there is the “legal” factor where the laws are mirky at best – for example – what EXACTLY does “fair use” mean?? So kids dont see things as “black and white/good or bad” – they see everything as a “gray” area.
    So the blame falls on the ones who right the laws and the parents of the kids as well as the kids themselves.

  2. John brings up a good point that we have some legal contradictions to deal with… “Fair Use” and removing copy protection measures (DMCA) are at odds. However, I don’t think anyone would argue that downloading music from BitTorrent is legal.

  3. I totally agree with you Dave – I was adding that part of the problem of downloading music w/out paying for it is just the prodigy of downloading software from (are you ready for it Mari??) “yesteryear” or would that be “years-gone-by”. :-) It’s still not legal but since the net was created somewhere, someone has “shared” a file or 2 with someone else in the world.
    I’m just not sure how to put the “Genie back in the bottle”… lol

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