80% of teenagers think song swapping is OK

— 6:04 AM on May 12, 2003

Some frankly disturbing poll results have surfaced suggesting that the vast majority of today's youth think peer-to-peer file swapping is perfectly legal. According to the poll, only 27% of American teenagers believe that P2P song swapping is illegal, and only 20% think that it's "wrong." Oddly enough, 58% think that any sort of web-based song swapping is illegal, suggesting that American teenagers are under the impression that P2P networks are somehow magically exempt from copyright law.

Perhaps most puzzling is the poll's findings on the relationship between music and movie swapping. The poll's results show that 38% of teenagers think movie swapping is illegal, while 40% consider it wrong. I'm still trying to wrap my head around that one.

Critics can rip apart the poll's source (E-Poll) or the sample size (only 1,075 total Internet users surveyed), but it's becoming increasingly clear that a generation brought up on broadband and Napster has little respect or even basic awareness of copyright law. With so few teenagers considering song swapping wrong, let alone illegal, I have to think it's going to take a lot more than Lars whining, Madonna swearing, or Britney pleading the RIAA's case to reverse a cultural trend that legitimizes song swapping as perfectly acceptable. Kids these days.

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