Update 12/24/07: As several alert readers pointed out, Ian's post was a quote from David Pogue's article in the New York Times. Sorry for the confusion. Good read regardless.
If you haven't done so already, jump over and read Ian Jukes fascinating post, "The Generational Divide of Copyright Morality," on his Committed Sardine blog. He describes an exercise he conducts with younger audiences saying, "I'm going to describe some scenarios to you. Raise your hand if you think what I'm describing is wrong." His scenarios range from:
"I borrow a CD from the library. Who thinks that's wrong?" (No hands go up.)
"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. ... Who thinks that might be wrong?" Two hands out of 500.
And interesting and informative experiment - one that is probably replicable among "net gen" kids everywhere.
I am not sure that these kids are less moral - only differently moral. A small example:
A few years ago I found the hard drive of my home PC was full. On investigation, I discovered that my teen-age son had downloaded a complete, illegal copy of one of the Lord of the Rings movies.
When I asked him if he didn't feel it was wrong to deprive someone of his/her livelihood by denying them payment for their creative property, he replied:
"But Dad, I paid to see the movie in the theater - twice. I will buy the DVD as soon as it comes out. And I will probably buy a deluxe edition when that comes out in a year or so. Just HOW am I not paying for this?"
I am not sure I agreed with his argument, but it was nice to know he was thinking about the ethical implications of his act.
While I have no ethical problems with DRM techniques (to the chagrin of at least a few of my readers, I'm aware), I agree with Ian that copy-protection will not be a long-term viable solution. But I still don't understand any economic model in which creators are compensated for their work when all their songs, books, software, etc., are easily attainable without payment (stolen).