Study: Half Of All Young People In UK Think Digital Content Should Be Free To Download

from the speed-and-convenience dept

One of the abiding delusions of the copyright industry is that if people — especially the young — could somehow be “educated” about the value of intellectual monopolies, they would learn to love them — despite the fact that there is zero evidence any copyright “education” campaign has worked. In this context, some interesting research from the UK, reported by TorrentFreak, explored the attitudes of both young and old to accessing online content. Here’s one of the striking results of that work, which suggests that the copyright industries are losing the battle for the hearts and minds of future online users:

half of the up-and-coming generation believes that the Internet should be a content free-for-all. A total of 49% of the 8 to 15-year-olds questioned said that they believe that people should be able to download the content they want from the Internet for nothing.

The following is particularly noteworthy:

The mainstream entertainment companies invariably insist that downloading movies and music without permission is tantamount to stealing. However, when it comes to the UK’s children the survey suggests that Big Entertainment has a mountain to climb to have that notion widely adopted. While 16% of children accept that it’s wrong to obtain content for free without the creator’s permission, just 7% believe that file-sharing is a form of stealing.

That is, 93% of the 614 young people interviewed do not accept the copyright industry’s relentless attempts to brand file-sharing as “stealing.” This result is comparable with that found by Swedish research among a similar age group. The rest of the UK survey throws useful light on what the main problem is here. Once again, it seems to be about the affordability and usability and online services:

Among the children, whose resources are often more limited, 44% said their motivation was financial, with a quarter of 16-24 year olds reporting that file-sharing is the only way they can afford to access content online.

Unsurprisingly, the issue of accessibility came in at a close second place for both [age] groups. The speed and convenience of file-sharing was cited as a key motivator for use by 41% of adults and 38% of the children.

As Techdirt keeps pointing out to the copyright industry, all these studies suggest the same solution to reducing unauthorized sharing: offering easy-to-use services at fair prices. When will it ever learn?

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or, and +glynmoody on Google+

Filed Under: , , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Study: Half Of All Young People In UK Think Digital Content Should Be Free To Download”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Rikuo (profile) says:

And of course if one continues this logical extrapolation – so basically half of kids today say online content should be free. What happens in ten to fifteen years when these kids grow up and are voting adults? If they keep the views they have now, they would most likely vote against any increases to copyright (if such increases are actually able to be voted on and not “negotiated” as part of a trade treaty behind closed doors), possibly vote in reductions to copyright and hopefully (in my view) vote out the tired law altogether.
I invite bob (whos apparently still around) to explain why if this happens, copyright should still be enforced as a law, even if the majority of a populace wants to get rid of it.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re:

As they grow up, roughly 70% of these kids will work in a grocery store that relies heavily on IP – once they work in this field, they are likely to change their minds. The other 30% will, of course, work in an industry that more indirectly relies on IP and some portion of those will end up realizing they were just young and did not know what they were talking about.

Tice with a J (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Get serious, Michael. Grocery stores relying on IP? Now, if you were talking about trademark, I could see where you were coming from, but this isn’t a trademark-like situation. Since we’re talking about downloading, this clearly has to do with copyright, and most grocery stores don’t rely on copyright at all.

Until the day comes when I can get my bread and cheese off of Bittorrent, Winco can count on my continued patronage, and the retailers will do just fine.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

A previous article here had a claim about a completely insane amount of industries relying on copyright to function. One of the largest included groceries and other retail. Thus the claim has been ridiculed since that day.

The sarc is great in that one. Gotta hand it to him: Slamming both the claims of “a majority of industry in USA need copyright” and “people saying negative things about copyright are only 15 year olds who need to grow up” is pretty easy to mistake given how the actual article is about 15 year olds…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I think you’re joking, but everyone else seems to think otherwise.

But I will say this if you’re serious. I work in the tech industry, one of the places that is the very definition by IP advocates for strong IP property laws.

Guess what, pretty much every software developer I know HATES IP laws and the IP system. We’d all be glad if all the patent and copyrights got declared null and void.

The company I work for has been sued once by patent trolls. While we’ve basically won that case, it was a very emotionally scary moment for the company, and drained a lot of our time we could have spent making our software better. Not to mention all the money we had to spend hiring a lawyer to fight it after the troll refused to settled for less than $150,000.

And no, I’m not some pirate who wants free stuff, nor would I pirate stuff if it were legal. I also refuse to buy any games or anything that have DRM built into them, it’s not worth the hassle dealing with that garage in my busy life.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“pretty much every software developer I know HATES IP laws and the IP system.”

Indeed. In fact, I don’t know a single software engineer who thinks positively about the current IP laws (particularly patent law). It’s easy to understand why: IP law is used as an anticompetitive weapon and introduces a huge amount of risk and uncertainty into the industry. It can ruin you even if you haven’t actually done anything wrong. On the whole, it’s incredibly harmful and prevents a lot of good work and true innovation.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I remember seeing a documentary a few years about the grime scene in London (as it was then, before it morphed toward the beginnings of dubstep), and this subject came up. Or, it may have been about the subject of “piracy” and they just happened to interview people in that up and coming scene, it may have been on the BBC or Channel 4 in the UK, I forget…

Either way, the conversations on that show have always stuck in my mind. Basically, most of the artists interviewed not only admitted they pirated stuff themselves, but didn’t give 2 craps if their own work was copied as well.

It’s possible that some of them have changed their tune as the scene ballooned and making real money was possible. IIRC, artists like Wiley and Dizzee Rascal were among those interviewed, and they’ve become major label successes. But, it definitely struck me (in a general way at least) that those who have spent their formative years online simply see things differently to those who’d already reached adulthood before the internet because such a major mainstream force.

This isn’t to say they didn’t still value creativity, recognition or even copyright. They simply aren’t trained to think about things in the same way as those who had to lug expensive physical objects around to enjoy and consume entertainment. This isn’t a problem – unless your business is in creating and moving those physical objects.

Trevor says:

Know the difference.

1. Stealing:

Someone takes your car. That person now has your car, and you do not have your car. You have been deprived of the use of your car.

2. NOT Stealing:

Someone makes a copy of your car. Somehow, they make an exact copy of your car, and drive it away. You still have your car. You have not been deprived of the use of your car.

Question: Downloading movies and music and tv shows online is more like with of the above scenarios?

bob (profile) says:

And the morons also want jobs working as writers, actors or artists

Sorry leeching losers, but you can’t have both. If you want the content for free, that will DESTROY the chance you’ll ever have of working as a writer, artist, musician, set designer, cinematographer or any of a hundred other attractive careers. It’s back to being a maid or cleaning out the hog pens.

You can’t have it both ways. If you want society to support great jobs that reward creativity, you’ve got to support property rights for those artists.

But you would rather work cleaning the gutters, I guess.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: And the morons also want jobs working as writers, actors or artists

At least 40,000 years of no copyright, and a few hundred years of copyright says that getting paid is not a major factor in creation of new cultural works. All that copyright has ever done is protect investment in producing copies by a batch process, and the leeches that make a profit off of other people work by demanding copyright assignment.

RD says:

Re: And the morons also want jobs working as writers, actors or artists

“You can’t have it both ways. If you want society to support great jobs that reward creativity, you’ve got to support property rights for those artists. “

Oh yes? And downloading will destroy that? Really?

So, please answer the following question, or forever shut your cakehole about file sharing:

Where can I purchase the X-Files in High Definition? Note, I said PURCHASE, not stream or rent.

** Note: “it is not available in High Definiton” is an incorrect answer. Also, “It is not available to purchase so you have to just live without” is an invalid (and ridiculous) answer.

Zonker says:

Re: Re: Re:2 And the morons also want jobs working as writers, actors or artists

The X-Files will be available in high definition when (if) Fox remasters the original 35mm in HD, re-edits them in HD, and redoes all the special effects in HD. The problem is that unlike before the mid 1980’s, all the editing and special effects were added after transferring the 35mm negative to standard definition video rather than on the negatives themselves. Thus there are no finished negatives to remaster in HD directly.

The first four seasons weren’t even done in widescreen format, and widescreen after that was still in standard definition. HD didn’t exist until 1998 and Fox didn’t adopt it until 2004, long after the X-Files series ended.

Thus everything done between the original film and final product would have to be redone to make a true HD remaster of the X-Files series instead of just slapping an HD label on an upscaled standard definition video. Rumors are that Fox may be working on a 4K HD remaster though, but the edits and effects likely won’t be exactly the same as the original.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 And the morons also want jobs working as writers, actors or artists

just slapping an HD label on an upscaled standard definition video

Do you think that is beneath FOX or something? My guess is there is someone with rights to a song playing on a car radio in the background and the whole thing is tied up while they negotiate.

RD says:

Re: Re: Re:3 And the morons also want jobs working as writers, actors or artists

Then why do I have a 1080p file of x-file episodes sitting on my hard drive? And no, these are NOT “upscaled” anything, these are properly mastered HD episodes.

The only thing is, they are from German broadcast of some kind, as all the titles are German, along with a little logo. But the video quality, including the effects, is most assuredly HD. I work in video production and know the difference, I have direct experience in what it takes to convert, upscale, or master HD.

So – WHY does this exist, but I CANT BUY these HD episodes on bluray, when they CLEARLY have already been mastered?

First person who answers with a REAL answer (none of this “regional markets” or licensing bullshit, I, as the consumer, DONT CARE what “deals” the studios have – the only “deal” I care about is WHERE DO I GIVE MY MONEY TO GET HD X-FILES?) gets one thousand internets AND is allowed to rebut these arguments raised in these threads.

Greevar (profile) says:

Re: And the morons also want jobs working as writers, actors or artists

If selling copies was the only way to make a living in content, you’d be right. However, it is not even remotely close to being the only option. Creating content is a skill, and a skill can be sold as a service. The only thing that will be “destroyed” is the power to control access to content indefinitely as a means to extracting perpetual revenue from something created with a finite amount of labor.

In truth, we can have it both ways. Content as a business thrived long before copyright appeared and it will continue to do so long after copyright ceases to exist.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: And the morons also want jobs working as writers, actors or artists

that will DESTROY the chance you’ll ever have of working as a writer, artist, musician, set designer, cinematographer or any of a hundred other attractive careers

I am going to take the crazy standpoint of conceding to this point even though it is completely ridiculous.

So what? If I had my eyes set on a job as a telephone operator, or a buggy maker should we have outlawed the technologies that made these jobs disappear?

Let’s say, for the sake of conversation, technology makes it completely impossible to make enough money to survive on writing new songs. What do you see happening because of that?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: And the morons also want jobs working as writers, actors or artists

“Buggys aren’t made any more, you fucking moron. Music and movies are.”

Ignoring your usual childish attitude, yes they are. They are made by many, many people who either have no stake in the corporate status quo you support, or are actively hampered by their business tactics. Employment in those industries will continue, even if the labels and studios fall into their well deserved ruin.

“If can’t even come up with a decent analogy”

I love the way you left the word “you” out of your sentence here, since horrible analogies are the preferred tactic of the AC troll in these parts.

observer says:

Re: Re: Property Rights

“All you’ve got to support is that people get paid for the work they do, not the things they own.”

All those old space operas where humanity owns half the galaxy but has reverted to feudalism don’t look quite so implausible now. Not when we’ve got a significant number of people who, though they probably don’t think of it that way, support a system that’s functionally the same: people getting paid for what they own rather than what they do.

jdc (profile) says:

Know the history

Let’s see. In the United States copyright started with a 14 year term that could be renewed for another 14 years. Later extended to 28 years with a 14 year renewal. Seems more than long enough to encourage new works while giving the artist plenty of time to exploit his or her exclusive control of the material.

Now it’s life of the author plus an additional 70 years. Quite frankly, that’s insane. Why so much time? Especially when you consider that communications today is so much faster and easier than it was back in the early 1800’s and that progress is so much faster.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Know the history

I know right? 14 years when it literally took years to print, distribute and advertise your product.

You’d think in the internet age the term would decrease with the increase in communication speed.

It’s just that over time, “making a living on your art” got turned into “all the profits are mine for ever and ever and ever you fucking thieves”.


Re: Or stated in another way

…or it just means that people in general see no value in bits. Something that can be replicated for near zero cost is viewed to have near zero value. It’s not something that they can touch or taste or hoard, so they don’t view it as property at all.

It completely bypasses our inner animal. It doesn’t conform to any established rules regarding value based on the hoarding instincts of that inner animal.

If you surveyed people in nursing homes you would probably get similar results simply because 50% of the population isn’t even wired to relate to “intellectual property”. They just don’t get it on an instinctive reptilian level.

This is a problem that the Robber Baron wannabes continue to try and ignore despite the fact that these issues have all been raised before.

Chris-Mouse (profile) says:

What this story seems to tell me is that Tomas Macaulay was correct in the prediction he made in 1841 The whole speech is worth reading, but the very last paragragh perfectly describes what this study has discovered.

On which side indeed should the public sympathy be when the question is whether some book as popular as Robinson Crusoe, or the Pilgrim’s Progress, shall be in every cottage, or whether it shall be confined to the libraries of the rich for the advantage of the great-grandson of a bookseller who, a hundred years before, drove a hard bargain for the copyright with the author when in great distress?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“they still sell today, making money for publishers”

“Publishers” meaning anyone who has been willing to not only publish and distribute the original text for a fee (which people still pay for despite being legally available for free), not just those who originally signed a contract. It also means artists, writers, filmmakers, musicians, game developers, etc. who have freely taken inspiration directly or indirectly from the original text and enriched global culture while potentially also enriching themselves.

It’s depressing how many people are willing to sacrifice this so that “the great-grandson of a bookseller who, a hundred years before, drove a hard bargain for the copyright with the author” can benefit. It’s nice to see that fewer people are buying into this immoral and unsustainable idea.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I'm all for artists getting paid...

Superfluous middlemen? OK smart guy, explain how an artist is supposed to:

1. Press records?
2. Package and ship albums to record stores?
3. Get FM radio exposure?
4. Get ads printed in magazines?
5. Pay for lawyers and lobbyists?

C’mon! We need the major labels.
This isn’t the dark ages. Right?

Anonymous Coward says:

This is one of the main reasons why the infringement enforcers haven’t made a real dent in their move to end infringement. It’s against the human nature.

In the process of enforcement what the infringement forces have accomplished, is to get the public to hate them. That in itself is not conducive to winning hearts and minds to move the goal posts forward in the direction they wish. Nor does the idea that these alphabet groups are to blame leaving the studios not to have to shoulder the ire.

This is being reflected by the idea that these IP groups are dropping out of the enforcement groups or seriously lowering their cash contributions to enforcement groups. While the MPAA and RIAA have seen serious cut backs in funding the CEOs are not seeing that cut back. The good news is they have far less money to operate with, limiting their damages to more FUD in articles and less court and lobbying actions.

Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch.

TheResidentSkeptic says:

Or, we could just do the math.

“You Must Be A Pirate Media Tax”… currently 2% on Hard Drives.

558 MILLION drives sold in 2009.

If we go low, and say $49.95 “average” price – well, 2% of 50 bucks is a dollar.

So $1 PER DRIVE is a half a BILLION paid out. PER YEAR. and that is JUST on drives…wanna count blank discs too?

So… where is all that??? how much have the artists gotten of that?

That equates to 37,287,000 units (at $14.95) in your “lost sales” fantasy land.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Or, we could just do the math.

I haven’t been on this site in over a year, but I want to point out something to you.

The person you replied to was specifically discussing a media tax on hard drives and even those on discs. They specifically asked what if anything has been paid to artists from this media tax.

They did not mention anything about committing copyright infringement (i.e. your retarded “stealing their albums” bit) or anything of a similar nature.

As such, your comment is far from the mark and not even remotely related to the comment to which it was given as a reply.

tl;dr Try again, asshole.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Or, we could just do the math.

The person I replied to used the stale trope about artists seeing money from blank media taxes- something that has nothing to do with an artist’s contract and what he’s paid. An artist is paid on units sold. This asshole’s lame “retort” is often used by pirates when trying to justify their illegal behavior. and this website is a pro-piracy blog (duh).

Now go fuck yourself, you Bubble Valley ballbag.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Or, we could just do the math.

So yes, tax consumers to prop up legacy businesses – regardless of whether said blank media is used for piracy or legit purposes – and not one fucking cent makes it to the artists exploited to get the lawmakers to do their bidding.

So Hollywood fat-cats get fatter, whilst accusing others of stealing from the artists?

Don’t go fuck yourself. Go kill yourself.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Or, we could just do the math.

So you’re admitting that it’s basically a pointless money grab targeting people who have done no more to pirate except legally purchase blank media. Just like settlement money from pirates that never make it into the pockets of artists.

If contracts are where artists get all their pay then maybe it’s time they started demanding better contracts, or just keep starving with their spare mansions and swimming pools. I’m just going to stick with my legally purchased video games via Steam. Why the hell should I support an industry punishing me for legal behavior?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Or, we could just do the math.

What a surprise, none of the usual fanboys are answering. Whatever, average_joe and the rest of the copyright cocksuckers. They can’t argue it’s not a money grab, because that’s exactly what it is. And they’re far too busy jizzing over each other over Aereo. What a bunch of jackasses.

Anonymous Coward says:

I actually see a disturbingly real trend in young people in regards to copyright. Not OTHERS’ copyright perhaps, but definitely their own.

Look at any computer game with a large modding community. Many gaming companies now go out of their way to make their games friendly for modders. Want to tweak, change or add on to our game? More content for everyone! Yay!

Companies allow and even actively support the ability to take everything they have done – turn it on it’s head and make something new and cool. Yay!

Then look at the mods themselves… Copyright. Copyright. Copyright. No use without permission. Cannot distribute. Cannot be included in a mod-pack without express permission. In some places it’s getting ridiculous.

Far too often the disturbing reaction from modders seems to be “thanks for letting me mod your game, but everyone better stay the fuck away from what I made because it’s MINE!”

It’s getting increasingly rare to see people slap a CC0 license or something similar, on their mods – even though they are effectively free to use.

Permission culture is definitely beginning to affect the younger generation. So… yay…

Whatever (profile) says:

nice study

It’s a nice study, but you have to take it in context to understand it better.

UK youth think that public drunkeness, fighting, stealing cars (joy riding) and unsafe sex at a young age are also good and acceptable ways to do things. It shouldn’t be surprising that their attitude towards online content and copyright are similarly skewed towards self-satisfaction without concern for any consequences or the effects on others.

Anonymous Coward says:

A Random Anecdote

A couple-few years ago, I caught most of “RiP: A remix manifesto” on TV (lotsa Girl Talk, and even some Cory Doctorow) and recorded it. Checking it out on the web, I noticed that it was available for download, at a cost of “Whatever.” In other words, pay anything you want.

I had already seen it once, and had a copy on my DVR.

I paid $100 for a download anyway.

Jake says:

Not Surprising Really

The powers that be over here are pretty comfortable with making our nation’s youth work for nothing. Think unpaid internships are bad? Try mandatory unpaid ‘work experience placements’ stacking shelves in the supermarket or you get kicked off welfare, and no limit on how many placements the supermarkets get before they have to hire someone or get bounced from the program. Oh, and theft of labour is a civil matter instead of a criminal offence; if you don’t get paid you can either hire a lawyer or suck it up.

An entire generation of British citizens in their teens and twenties are learning that the idea of your nominal employer paying you a salary in return for your labour is now considered quaint. Why the hell wouldn’t they feel entitled to demand something for nothing? It’s demanded of them on a regular basis.

GEMont (profile) says:

... we won't be fooled again...

“When will it ever learn?”

I think the more important question is;

“When will we ever learn?”

What nobody seems to comprehend, is that all of this copyright infringement crap was started in order to gain full control of the internet.

The companies most involved in screaming THEFT, are the same companies that began the entire process of Peer To Peer file sharing in the first place. Warner Brothers, Disney, the big players, all had affiliated websites and these websites offered the very first peer to peer software packages and the instructions on how to download copyrighted material using this software.

Once they had made the process popular, they started screaming at legislators that they were being robbed by “pirates” and demanded legislation be written to protect their rights.

They fear the future and its inevitable internet based upstarts who will produce and distribute better films and music at better prices and with better quality than they do, and are working in cahoots with government who hates the web because its a place where the voiceless can speak and where the public can communicate anonymously, and where whistleblowers can expose government crimes as fast as they can perpetrate them.

All of this copyright shit is simply the means by which the old guard intends to take over and control the internet and turn it into just another TV channel, filled with shitty advertisements.

Now they have DMCA takedowns to remove any damn thing they don’t like at will, and the courts do nothing when a company misuses this law, and soon the bad guys will be able to purge all the known facts about their crimes recorded on-line, through the use of the Right To be Forgotten laws.

Soon ISPs will start self censoring iffy statements and comments that MIGHT be “actionable” in order to avoid the inevitable legal ramifications. Places like TechDirt will no longer even be considered.

Or worse-case scenario, they will initiate an Internet ID card so they can end anonymity and free speech altogether over-night.

Each year will bring in new laws designed specifically to eradicate more and more of what makes the internet the most awesome invention of the last 1000 years, until there is nothing left at all worth giving a shit about.

Eventually, the internet will become nothing more than a commercial nation of walled gardens with a guard at every cyber-door who will take your money, stamp a number on your hand and let you enter, “IF” your name is on the list.

Everything else will be just Billboards advertising crap.

Its already half way there.

Bish says:


I’m late to this pissing contest, BUT:

It’s my understanding that almost half (actually, a minority if we’re being pedantic/honest) of a handful of kids agreed with the statement “you should be able to download or access content you want for free from the internet.”

Now, before we go extrapolation crazy, are we entirely sure that all six-hundred-odd kiddie winks had the same understanding of “content” that the survey-publishers are suggesting? Without getting bogged down in thee piracy debate (I do it, and feel guilty about it, so I also have Spotify, Netflix and Amazon Prime accounts, and tend to throw more money than I should at mediocre bandcamp productions, in the hope that the artists will use it to spend some money on someone who knows how to record music), I broadly believe that “content” should be free. Google should be free, YouTube should be free, Facebook, Lifehacker, Techdirt, the guardian, whatever – they provide content and it should be free (the less said about the Times, the better). The commodification of art as “content” devalues it, and bunches it in with all the other slurry we consume on a daily basis. Art should be valued and artists should be rewarded consistently with how many people value their art.

It gets messy when Thom Yorke or whoever starts complaining about artists not being supported. He’s half right, but at the same time, if your work isn’t getting the recognition you need to monetise it (ew, I just did a bit of sick in my mouth), well, tough. Not all artists gain the recognition they deserve – from Van Gough to Nick Drake – and that’s a terrible shame, but sometimes that’s just the luck of the draw, and one of the myriad potential pitfalls of choosing to pursue your art. Spotify or Piracy aren’t killing those artists’ bottom lines, and more or less than a new phone packed full of the remixed “content” of a dead kiddie-fiddler (sorry MJ).

Seriously, if we’re going to call the works of the greatest artists (in all mediums) of our time “content”, why stop there? Why not “stuff” or “shit”?

TL;DR – doubt that the youngsters conflate their favourite films, music and books with “content” the way the survey writers do.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...