A 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”)