Strictly Illegal

Teenagers Less Likely to illegally Download from the Net if they know the Law
by: Jerry Liao

I recently visited the website of the Business Software Alliance (BSA) to determine the status of piracy worldwide, particularly Asia and the Philippines. What I got was a study Global Software Piray done 2006 but was released May of 2007. Vietnam topped the list at 88%, Pakistan (86%), Indonesia (85%), China (82%), Thailand (80%) and India / Philippines tied at (71%).

On the other hand, the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) recommends that 13 countries be placed on the Priority Watch List in 2008: Argentina, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Egypt, India, Mexico, People’s Republic of China, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, and Ukraine. New countries which IIPA would like to see added to the Watch List this year include: Spain, Greece, Sweden, Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, Brunei, Bangladesh, Nigeria, and Kazakhstan.

IIPA requested that United States Trade Representative (USTR) to conduct an out-of-cycle reviews of three countries to evaluate their progress on the issues identified in the submission: Italy, Philippines, and Thailand. Although IIPA is not recommending these countries for placement on a Special 301 list, it urges USTR to give heightened bilateral attention to eight additional countries which pose specific problems for U.S. industry. These are Bulgaria, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Jordan, New Zealand, Singapore, and Switzerland.

Is there a solution to software piracy? Maybe. But before we can find the solution, we must know the causes.

Microsoft Corp. announced the results of a new survey that found teenagers between seventh and 10th grades are less likely to illegally download content from the Internet when they know the laws for downloading and sharing content online.

About half of those teens, however, said they were not familiar with these laws, and only 11 percent of them clearly understood the current rules for downloading images, literature, music, movies and software. Teens who were familiar with downloading rules credited their parents, TV or stories in magazines and newspapers, and Web sites — more so than their schools — as resources for information about illegal downloading.

“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.”

Microsoft has enlisted Topics Education, a developer of custom curricula, to help launch the pilot of a broad-based 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 in a meaningful way 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 and assign usage rights by mixing music online to create a custom riff that they can download as a ringtone.

Following are additional key 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 rely on parents for rules on downloading.

– 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* to download or share content over the Internet without paying for it or gaining the owner’s permission (76 percent vs. 68 percent respectively).

– Teens are challenged by peer pressure and their wallets.

– Among teens, peer pressure and cost also have a strong influence on attitudes toward illegal downloading.

Here in the Philipines, I still maintain that Filipinos will buy legal softwares, music, and movies for as long as the prices are reasonable. I saw Filipino consumers buying dozens of original CD / DVD movies when a store had a sale. So my two cents worth – further educate the user with regards to the law but more importantly, lower the prices – I am sure that’s going to be a winning formula.

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