A (semi-) new study in the UK has revealed the extents to which teenagers share their mp3's and it is astounding, but not all that shocking - or at least it shouldn't be, to anyone under the age of 30. "On average every iPod or digital music player contained 842 illegally copied songs." The important thing when considering averages is that there are a LOT of people out there with WAAAAAY more than this number on their iPods. There are just as many with less. But when we're talking about averages, people oftentimes forget the fact that this is a middling number that we're taking into consideration. I bought a TON of CD's in my youth, but that was mainly due to an absentee-father who didn't care at all how I spent his money. Even given all the CD's that I had, (I traded in approximately 500+ when I sent them to Feed Your Player for some iPods when I finally decided it was ridiculous to hold on to them) I still know and acknowledge that a large percentage of my music collection is illegally obtained. A lot of this has to do with going away to college; when I went to Gonzaga, they networked all of the computers in a dorm, and everyone shared all of their music. It was a free-for-all. And this was also in the heyday of Napster, before its current version, when people were getting any song they wanted but didn't have at literally any time.
The most important consideration, here, however, lies toward the end of the article. The study finds that most of these British teenagers would, in fact, be willing to pay for their music, if only there was some service that presented a fair alternative to do so. That means that we'd pay a flat fee: x amount per month, for unlimited songs. Why would anyone pay any other model when there's clearly a free alternative out there? Additionally, however, there cannot be any of these DRM restrictions that we're currently seeing! It's ridiculous to think of this in the double-standard way that the record companies apparently are: it's property, so you can't steal it! Oh wait, it's NOT property, so we're gonna take it back from you as soon as you stop paying us. That's a nonsensical model.
All of this, of course, is building towards a re-definition of what exactly it means to be a pirate. Is this the worst thing for our country? People like myself say no. People who think that they can "own" intellectual property say yes. Ultimately it's a decision that you have to make for yourself, because, honestly, the odds of any government agency, or even the RIAA themselves catching you for breaking the law, are pretty slim. And that's coming from someone who's been caught! Color me unconcerned.
(Hat Tip to Prefix, BTW.)