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College Students Untroubled Over Digital File Collecting

College Students Untroubled Over Digital File Collecting

By Ronald Roach

Two-thirds of American college students have no qualms about swapping or downloading digital copyrighted files (software, music and movies) without paying for them, according to a new survey released by the Business Software Alliance. More than half, or 52 percent, believe the practice is acceptable to pursue while in the workplace.
The survey also indicates that 45 percent of students are using the campus networks for illegal downloading activities. The same percentage of students say their campus policies are effective. However, nearly three-quarters of faculty and administrators say the policies are effective.

“Generation Y has largely grown up using the Internet and the majority of this group is extremely comfortable with technology. Unfortunately, this survey shows students who engage in these illegal behaviors are likely to continue after college and when they enter the business world,” says Diane Smiroldo, BSA’s vice president for public affairs.

The announcement of the survey coincides with the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling in MGM Studios vs. Grokster, which reaffirmed the need for balance between innovation and piracy prevention. BSA officials favored the opinion, which says that persons intentionally and actively engaged in encouraging others to infringe, or “inducing infringement,” can be held liable under the law for their acts.
“The application of this new standard should make a real and positive difference in combating online piracy,” Smiroldo says.

 Also, 61 percent of students reported never or rarely paying for commercial software programs. The survey found downloading music is a gateway to downloading software, according to the BSA. Among students who say they always download music or movies without paying for them, 27 percent said they regularly download software from a peer-to-peer, or P2P, network.

The independent survey, conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs, benchmarks the more than 1,000 students’ and 200 university faculty and administrators’ digital piracy attitudes and behaviors against those first reported in a 2003 BSA/Ipsos survey. For a copy of the 2003 and 2005 Student and Academic Surveys and topline reports as well as digital copyright education resources, visit <>. 

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