Microsoft's innocence: teens won't download illegally if they know the law

Digital Music, Internet

home_taping_is_killing_music_logo.gifHats off to Microsoft for believing in teenagers. They’re not a bad bunch after all, are they?

Far be it from me to tarnish “all teenagers” with the same stereotypes, but I still had to laugh a little at the results of Microsoft’s latest survey, which suggests that teens wouldn’t download stuff illegally off the Net if they really knew what the laws were.

Nearly half of the seventh-to-tenth graders said that they weren’t familiar with the rules and guidelines for downloading images, literature, music, movies and software from the Internet.

Among the one in ten who were “very familiar” with the laws (so they say), 80% said illegal downloaders should be punished. That’s two in every 25 kids who are goody-two-shoes.

Funny, though, that most teenagers look to their parents for information about what they can and can’t do online. While that’s very admirable (regardless of whether they actually take that advice) I doubt many parents have an intimate knowledge of the law, either.

In any case, I’m not convinced that knowing the law is going to stop teenagers doing what they want to do. By that token, teenagers who know it’s illegal to have underage sex won’t get adolescent cravings. Neither will they hang about outside newsagents trying to buy fags, nor skulk in the corners of pubs trying to muster up the courage to buy a pint of beer.

Let’s be honest, the lure of online warez is going to be too much for a lot of teens. Few of them are going to turn to organised crime because they downloaded a few music tracks off the web. Not that I’m condoning that, of course. It’s illegal.

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Andy Merrett
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