Children Are The Future

The sharp generational divide in practices and attitudes in our data begs an important question: what happens when today’s “all digital” children become adults? Because phone surveys in the US and Germany require adult consent, we did not include respondents under the age of 18. A number of surveys have explored younger age groups, however. Most of these have found that youth have the highest rates of participation in file sharing and related practices.

  • Germany, 2011: An MPFS (2011) survey found that 63% of 12- to 19-year-olds have copied files from family and friends; 56% have purchased CDs; 43% have recorded streaming music from the Internet; and 23% have downloaded files from file-sharing platforms.
  • Germany, 2011: GfK’s 2011 survey found that 10- to 19-year-olds lead all age groups in hard-drive sharing, while 20- to 29-year-olds lead in music downloads.
  • France, 2009: A HADOPI (2009) survey found that 70% of French Internet users age 15–24 acknowledged “illicit consumption” online at some point, compared with 55% of those age 25–39 and 32% of those over 40.
  • Netherlands, 2009: Huygen et. al. (2009) surveyed 1500 Dutch Internet users, including 15- to 24-year-olds. Of this group 66% had shared (i.e., downloaded without purchasing) music, films, or games in the previous year, compared with 47% those age 25–34 and 44% of respondents overall.
  • UK, 2009: Bahanovich and Collopy (2009) surveyed 1808 14- to 24-year-olds in the United Kingdom. Eighty-nine percent had copied a CD, 61% had used P2P services, and 57% had copied entire music collections from friends.
  • Poland, 2011: Filiciak et al. (2012) found that 61% of Poles age 15–24 participated in the “informal circulation of digital cultural content,” including illicit downloading, copying, and sharing and watching illegal streams. In contrast, “the part of the population that is over 40 years old basically does not participate in this type of circulation.”
  • UK, 2011: A Kantar Media survey (Kantar Media 2010) puts participation in “unauthorized downloading” among 12- to 15-year-olds at 33%. Among 16- to 24-year-olds, 27%.
  • UK, 2012: A Wiggin survey (2010) in the United Kingdom found that 16% of 20- to 24-year-olds “regularly” share music via P2P services. Among those over 45, 0% do.
  • Europe, 2009: Eurostat’s Youth in Europe report (2009) found that 25% of German 16- to 24-year-olds claimed use of P2P services, compared to 16% of those age 25–34. This generational pattern proved consistent within Europe: Spain, 53% and 32%; France, 36% and 20%; UK, 33% and 20%; Italy, 36% and 22%; Poland, 37% and 20%.

And this, ultimately, is what we mean by a copy culture: the emergence of a commonplace set of sharing practices that define how people relate to media. The lag time between political culture and youth culture on these issues is clear, understandable, and—we see every reason to think—temporary. The young share. If we want intellectual property laws that enjoy widespread respect in the digital era, either the laws, the business models, or both will have to accommodate that.

Next: Appendices