New York (February 14, 2008)–Teenagers between seventh and 10th grades are less likely to illegally download content when they know the law regarding such behavior, according to a new survey. That said, the study, sponsored by Microsoft, found about half of those teens were not familiar with the laws, and only 11 percent of them clearly understood the current rules for downloading images, literature, music, movies and software.
Other findings from the survey:
• A lack of familiarity with the rules and guidelines for downloading from the Internet contributes to teen opinions that punishment is unnecessary.
• Almost half of the teenagers surveyed (49 percent) said they are not familiar with the rules and guidelines for downloading images, literature, music, movies and software from the Internet. Only one in 10 (11 percent) said they understood the rules “very well.”
• Among teenagers who said they were familiar with the laws, more than eight in 10 (82 percent) said illegal downloaders should be punished. In contrast, slightly more than half (57 percent) of those unfamiliar with the laws said violators should be punished.
• In general, teenagers regard illegal downloading over the Internet as less offensive than other forms of stealing.
• Less than half of the teens surveyed (48 percent) indicated punishment was appropriate for illegal downloading, while 90 percent indicated punishment was appropriate for stealing a bike.
• Teens report that their parents are their main source of information about what they can and cannot do online. Reinforcing the role of parents is the finding that some of the strongest deterrents to stealing and illegally sharing content are the prospective consequences.
• Among teens who download or share content online, boys are more likely than girls to say that they would not continue after being told the rules [that they could face jailtime] to download or share content over the Internet without paying for it or gaining the owner’s permission (76 percent vs. 68 percent respectively).
“Widespread access to the Internet has amplified the issue of intellectual property rights among children and teens,” said Sherri Erickson, global manager, Genuine Software Initiative for Microsoft. “This survey provides more insight into the disparity between IP awareness and young people today, and highlights the opportunity for schools to help prepare their students to be good online citizens.”
As a result, Microsoft is launching the pilot of a curriculum for middle school and high school educators titled “Intellectual Property Rights Education.” The curriculum is focused on preparing students for the digital age, helping them understand how intellectual property rights affect their lives, and sparking discussion to clarify the “gray areas” in protected and shared content. To complement the curriculum and enhance the learning experience, Microsoft is also launching an interactive Web site, http://www.mybytes.com/, where kids can develop their own intellectual property.
[ As an aside, it should be noted that the educational site for kids does not offer any information on the Fair Use rights that are afforded them by law. Meanwhile, the site for educators has only one mention–in its FAQ–which suggests that it’s best to ask for permission first when applying Fair Use rights.]
The Teacher’s Guide To Intellectual Property Rights Education