updated 09:35 am EST, Wed February 13, 2008
MS Study on Teen Piracy
Most teenagers pirate music, software, or videos only because they are unaware of the law, Microsoft claims through the results of a new study published today. The Zune maker observes that nearly half of younger teens, or 49 percent, are not aware of copyright laws online, while less than 10 percent feel they know the laws well. This knowledge has a major impact on whether or not they consider bootleg downloads worthy of punishment, Microsoft claims: while 57 percent said illegal downloading demanded punishment, this number climbed dramatically to 82 percent when they were more clearly aware of the laws.
Clarity over the law became less ambiguous when compared to physical theft, the study reportedly shows. While only 48 percent of the teens studied thought illegal downloads merited punishment, that figure jumped to 90 percent when discussing punishment for a stolen bicycle.
Microsoft also states that most teens depend heavily on their parents for information about rules online and that most (76 percent of boys, 68 percent of girls) would stop illegal downloading if aware of the rules or given explicit permission. Most are encouraged to pirate content partly through their limited budgets as well as pressure from friends.
As a result of the study, Microsoft says it has launched a new website known as MYBYTES to promote "Intellectual Property Rights Education:" the company encourages teens to create and share music ringtones but also assign their own rights to each track. While this ranges from free and unrestricted to pay-only downloads that cannot be used as part of others' ringtones, the move is meant to clarify the "gray areas" of IP law for a younger audience, according to the company.
The study and launch mirror Microsoft's dual approaches to copy protection in recent years. While the company is often cited as one of the parents of modern digital rights management (DRM) with the limits imposed by its Windows Media and Zune Marketplace formats, the company has recently encouraged DRM-free sales of MP3s through the Zune store and encourages the use of unprotected formats on its Zune portable players.