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Report: 'Tweens' Less Likely to Pirate


_____Digital Rights_____
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The Future of Music Distribution (Live Online, May 24, 2004)
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By David McGuire Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 26, 2004; 5:32 PM

Young children are far less likely than teenagers to illegally download music, movies and software from the Internet, according to the results of an online poll that were released today.

Fourteen percent of children ages eight to 12 said they have downloaded music from the Internet without paying for it, according to the poll conducted by Harris Interactive Corp. Three percent said they have downloaded software and 2 percent said they have downloaded movies.

By contrast, teenagers downloaded without paying for it much more frequently. Seventy-six percent have pirated music, 33 percent software and 17 percent movies, according to 621 teens interviewed by Harris. The polling firm collected the results as part of a larger study on children's downloading habits.

Harris conducted the survey between April 14 and 20 for the Business Software Alliance (BSA), a lobbying group that fights software piracy. The BSA's members include Microsoft Corp., Apple Computer and Adobe Inc.

The upswing in piracy once children become teenagers proves that parents, businesses and the government should spend more time and money to teach children that illegal downloading and file-sharing is wrong, said Diane Smiroldo, spokeswoman for the BSA.

The findings suggest that children can learn responsible downloading practices if taught at an early enough age, she said.

Younger children avoid Internet piracy because they are more likely to obey their parents and less inclined to break the law, said Parry Aftab, executive director of, a nonprofit group that studies children's Internet habits and teaches responsible computer use. It also has 9,000 volunteers who help victims of online harassment and aid law enforcement investigations into online criminal incidents.

"Eight- and 9-year-olds tend to follow the rules; 10-year-olds -- about half of them -- follow the rules, and by 11 they ignore everything you've told them," Aftab said.

The BSA, the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) have spent millions of dollars on educating the public on the legal consequences of online piracy. Nevertheless, compact disc sales have dropped from $13.2 billion in 2000 to $11.2 billion in 2003, and the RIAA attributes much of this to piracy. The BSA blames piracy for sapping $13 billion a year away from its members.

There is no demonstrable way to prove that education will make pre-teen children less likely to pirate entertainment and software once they become teenagers, Smiroldo said, but they are trying anyway. "At this point they're certainly more educated about copyright, so we hope they won't."

The RIAA has gained notoriety for suing suspected music pirates, some as young as 12 years old. Although the BSA has joined the record companies and movie studios in taking a hard-line approach to adults who download music illegally, Smiroldo said the group is more interested in educating younger people than suing them.

Preventing piracy is a laudable goal, but companies also see potential profits down the road by convincing younger children to pay for their products once they get older, said Don Montuori, editor of "U.S. Tweens Market, 2nd Edition," a report published in April 2003 by Rockville, Md.-based Inc.

In addition to being more likely than the average population to have Internet access, the 8- to 14-year-old age group commands $38 billion in disposable income, Montuori said. "For people who really don't work, that's not chump change. Marketers of all sorts recognize that this is a group with disposable income."

Tina Wells, managing director at New York-based youth-focused consulting firm Blue Fusion, said tweens spend their money on toys, gum and candy, clothes and shoes, computer and video games and music.

"The real tweens are getting their money from mom and dad [and] doing odd jobs," Wells said. "Tweens are very savvy and they're very smart and they know how to get money. They're selling toys on eBay." Home

© 2004 Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive

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