Microsoft survey on copyright theft points to need to educate

March 2008

All areas

Microsoft has announced the results of a new survey which has prompted the software company to launch a campaign to teach teens about intellectual property rights and the risks they face when breaking the law. The survey showed that teens appear to be willing to curtail illegal downloading when told they face fines or jail time. Microsoft’s survey found that about half of the teenagers surveyed (49%) said they are not familiar with the rules and guidelines for downloading content from the Internet. Only 11% understood the rules well, and of those, 82% said downloading content illegally merits punishment. Among those unfamiliar with the law, only 57% supported punishment for intellectual property violations. More worryingly for the music industry, The Microsoft survey also found that many teens believe online music is overpriced. It found that 41% of teens believe the cost to download a song should be between $0.50 and $1. Twenty-six percent of respondents said digital songs should cost less than $0.50 and 21% said online music should be free. The Company has turned to Topics Education, a developer of custom curricula, to create a curriculum called Intellectual Property Rights Education for US middle and high school teachers. The Microsoft-sponsored curriculum consists of Web-based resources and case-study driven lesson plans that aim to engage students about intellectual property issues. Access Copyright, a Canadian copyright enforcement group, in 2006 launched a “Captain Copyright” web site and backed a lesson plan to teach students respect for copyright law. The project was greeted with widespread ridicule online and accusations that the site itself was violating copyright law. In August 2006, the site was, in effect, closed with an explanation posted that “despite the significant progress we made on addressing the concerns raised about the original Captain Copyright initiative, as well as the positive feedback and requests for literally hundreds of lesson kits from teachers and librarians, we have come to the conclusion that the current climate around copyright issues will not allow a project like this one to be successful.”

The University of Hertfordshire has teamed up with British Music Rights to survey 12-24 year olds in the UK to investigate the online usage habits of that age group in the UK. The results are due to be published in spring 2008 in a survey due to be repeated in an annual basis in order to track behaviour and patterns which would allow BMR to look at the effectiveness of their educational initiatives and see if there is an evolution in the consumer’s perception of copyright and changes in attitude.

IMPACT Magazine Issue 1 Q4/07 at p4

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