A new YouGov report reveals that there is a consensus that digital content should be free, with this view particularly prominent among children and young adults, who are also likely to view file sharing as ‘normal’.
The research found that just less than half (49%) of children (8-15 years old) agree or strongly agree that you should be able to download or access content you want for free from the internet. This age group shows and above-average propensity to agree that using file-sharing sites is so easy (6%) and that it has become a normal thing to do (7%).
49% of 16-24 year olds say that online content should be free. Online services that offer a free service (usually ad-supported) such as Spotify, YouTube and Blinkbox, tend to be popular with this group.
Cost is the major factor in the decision to use file sharing sites. Over half (51%) of adults and 44% of children who file share do so to save money. A quarter of 16-24 year olds say file sharing is the only way they can afford to access such content, whilst 27% believe that CDs and DVDs are too expensive. 41% of adults and 38% of children believe that it is a quick, convenient and easy way to access content.
Although ethical concerns do exist, only 16% of children strongly agree that it is wrong to access content without the creator or artist’s permission, whilst just 7% say file sharing is a form of stealing. Indeed, six in ten (60%) of 16-24 year olds agree that the companies and websites allowing illegal content should be punished, rather than those who have accessed the content.
In terms of what could motivate children to pay for content, a fifth say they would be happy to pay for content if it got them something new or exclusive. 13% say they would pay if there was a specific up-and-coming artist they want to support.
James McCoy, YouGov Research Director, said: ‘Children aged 8-15 are the key adopters of digital technology, and are likely to be more familiar with accessing content without paying. File sharing is most common amongst younger adults; cost and availability are key drivers.
‘Children in this generation have grown up with digital material and are used to having access to what they want, when they want it and for some of the time not paying for it. They do not just listen and watch digital content; they consume it by downloading, file sharing, streaming, making playlists and going on recommendations from friends or contacts via social media.’
‘Whilst they appreciate the issues surrounding piracy and illegal downloads, if they can get away with it, then they will. Why change the habit of a lifetime? The challenge for the industry is to find ways to engage with this group to change their mind-set about accessing content and to educate them in a relevant and non-condescending way about the issues surrounding this matter.’