Study: Illegal downloading among youth drops

Apple StoreThe results of a recent nationwide survey released by the Business Software Alliance (BSA) show that illegal downloading of digital copyrighted works by youth (ages 8 to 18) has dropped by 24 percent in the last three years. The survey, first conducted in 2004, indicated that 60 percent of survey participants reported downloading software, music, movies, or games without paying for it; in 2006 the percentage of those who downloaded without paying dropped to 43 percent; and in 2007 the percentage decreased to 36 percent. Youth report that parental oversight is a significant motivator and key influencing factor in their online behavior.

When the young survey participants were asked what worries them about downloading digital copyrighted works, such as software, music, movies or games, from the Internet without paying, the top responses were fear of accidentally downloading a computer virus (62 percent), getting into legal trouble (52 percent) and accidentally downloading spyware (51 percent). Fear of getting in trouble with parents ranked fourth at (48 percent), increasing from 40 percent in 2006.

“This study indicates that parents represent a growing and effective influence on the online practices of youth,” said Diane Smiroldo, vice president of public affairs for BSA, in the press release. “But, while decreases in downloading are encouraging over recent years, youth are still taking too many risks online. We hope that parents continue to take seriously their role in helping their children make the right choices online.”

When comparing the 2007 study results with the 2004 and 2006 surveys:
• There was a decrease in the percentage of kids downloading software without paying for it; 11 percent reported illegal downloading in 2007, down from 14 percent in 2006, and in 2004 at 22 percent.
• In 2007, 30 percent of youth admitted to downloading music without paying, compared to 32 percent in 2006 and 53 percent in 2004.
• 8 percent admitted to downloading movies without paying in 2007, down from 10 percent in 2006 admitting downloading without paying, and 17 percent reporting so in 2004.

Among other key findings:
In the 2007 survey, comparing young people without parental rules to youth with parental rules, kids are more likely to:
• surf the Web (87 percent without parental rules vs. 63 percent with rules);
• buy something (55 percent without parental rules vs. 19 percent with rules);
• download software (52 percent without parental rules vs. 19 percent with rules); and,
• download music without paying a download fee (47 percent without parental rules vs. 16 percent with rules).

“This study indicates that parents have a strong influence on how their children will make decisions about appropriate Internet behavior,” said Smiroldo. “Fortunately, the survey found that more than half of the students have been warned by their parents about dangerous, illegal online behaviors. Imposing rules and ensuring your children abide by them may be an old- fashioned concept for cyberspace, but it works.”

Children can visit – a website designed exclusively for young people to learn about appropriate computer usage in a fun and informative way. The site includes Garret the Ferret, BSA’s cyber-champion mascot, leading kids through games and activities that illustrate smart cyber behavior.

BSA provides a myriad of resources to help parents, teachers and guardians talk with young people about ethical and legal computer behavior. BSA’s website, – offers BSA’s first cyber ethics curriculum, “Play It Safe in Cyberspace.” The curriculum is widely used by parents and teachers to assist in conversations with elementary and middle school-age children about responsible cyber behavior. Since its initial distribution in 2002, the “Play It Safe in Cyberspace” curriculum has reached more than 13 million kids, parents and teachers. And, at the start of the 2007-2008 academic school year, BSA will introduce its second curriculum, “B4UCopy,” available for kids ages 8-18 and higher education students.

Other free resources from BSA available for teachers and parents include a four-page comic book curriculum and teacher’s guide also available on

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of BSA between March 14 and 19, 2007 among 1,196 youths ages 8 to 18 (including 506 tweens ages 8 to 12 and 690 teens ages 13 to 18. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, parental education, and region were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

With a pure probability sample of 1,196, one could say with a ninety-five percent probability that the overall results would have a sampling error of +/- 2.8 percentage points. Sampling error for data based on sub-samples would be higher and would vary. However, that does not take other sources of error into account. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no theoretical sampling error can be calculated.


  1. “one could say with a ninety-five percent probability that the overall results would have a sampling error of +/- 2.8 percentage points”

    I guess I don’t understand statistics like I should (I’m only a physics undergraduate) but is it at all odd to anyone else that the propagated error given has it’s own propagated error?

  2. The ipod effect strikes again!

    They didn’t ask relevant questions! Like for example
    what hardware did you own in 2004? If an MP3 player, did you buy music downloads once a week, once a fortnight Once a month or never.

    Same question in 2005 & 2006. They would have noted a dramatic drop in illegal downloads after the youth purchased or recieved an ipod.

    That would have given meaningful results as to how consumer electronic equipment with online capacity affects downloads in a legal context.

    I imagine one result would show that once the video ipod was released, illegeal downloading of films fell dramatically as well.

  3. I downloaded Lost because in the UK it was hard not to have things ruined, then SKY started showing it a few days after. If there are legitimate ways to get hold of stuff then the majority of people will use them.

  4. Those viruses and spyware planted by the IRAA are a bitch, for Windows users.

    Someone should bring a class action suit against the IRAA for infecting millions of kids’ Windows computers, the bastards.

  5. @ TT A yute is the equivalent of a kid (Goat or American) a rugrat (Disney)

    a child ( Classic English) born to parents of Jamaican or the Carribean origin.

    Hence the “Yute na naf” expression. The youth have had enough!!:-)

    No offence meant to anyone in the making of this reply!

  6. I agree making legitimate avenues available for copying/downloading can be good for business.

    Now, Apple, how about making non-home country iTunes stores available to everyone?

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