David Pogue writes for the New York Times' Circuits section. He describes how at various speaking engagements he has developed an exercise for his audiences, a kind of morality scale as to what downloading activities people consider immoral or unethical.
His great shock came when he presented this standard exercise at a college lecture. I've posted what Pogue said about this experience below, but it ought to give anyone of my readers involved in a copyright-intensive industry: music, TV, fim, software, etc... ample pause as we consider what the generations now in college and growing up will deem just and right as we try and earn our livings off of created works.
In an auditorium of 500, no matter how far my questions went down that garden path, maybe two hands went up. I just could not find a spot on the spectrum that would trigger these kids' morality alarm. They listened to each example, looking at me like I was nuts.
Finally, with mock exasperation, I said, "O.K., let's try one that's a little less complicated: You want a movie or an album. You don't want to pay for it. So you download it."
There it was: the bald-faced, worst-case example, without any nuance or mitigating factors whatsoever.
"Who thinks that might be wrong?"
Two hands out of 500.
Now, maybe there was some peer pressure involved; nobody wants to look like a goody-goody.
Maybe all this is obvious to you, and maybe you could have predicted it. But to see this vivid demonstration of the generational divide, in person, blew me away.
There it is in black and white. Now, I'm sure if Pogue were to ask this question in front ot students at Berklee College of Music or Belmont University's Mike Curb College of Entertainment & Music Business he'd get different responses, but I think overall, on campuses across the nation, the type of response Pogue saw would be the norm.