Child welfare charity Childnet is launching today (June 8) a global initiative aimed at educating parents about the benefits and dangers of music downloading and file-sharing.

Child welfare charity Childnet is launching today (June 8) a global initiative aimed at educating parents about the benefits and dangers of music downloading and file-sharing.

A leaflet -- "Young People, Music and the Internet" -- will be distributed in the coming months in at least eight languages and in 19 countries worldwide. The material will explain how P2P services work and what the risks are for children accessing illegal file-sharing services. It also describes several practical steps parents can take to better communicate with their children about the risks they face.

"We believe it is time to look at the wider safety and security issues as well as the legal risks [of file sharing]," Childnet CEO Stephen Carrick-Davies said in a statement. "Parents need to get up to speed with what their children are doing online, and this simple and clear advice should help them engage with their children, guide them appropriately and help them enjoy music safely online."

Endorsed and supported by Pro-music, the international music sector initiative promoting legitimate music online, the campaign will start in Germany, Italy, Spain, Singapore, the U.S. and the U.K. It will then be followed on a scattered basis in the coming months in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Greece, Ireland, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Sweden, and South Africa.

John Kennedy, chairman and CEO of IFPI, which is a member of Pro-music, said in a statement that the campaign is part of IFPI's and the music industry's educational efforts. "This campaign is perfectly timed, and it is aimed exactly at the right audience," he said. "At a time when music on the Internet, both legal and illegal, is being made available everywhere, parents, now more than ever, need to be armed with knowledge about the opportunities and the pitfalls surrounding online music."

Kennedy added that the campaign has been developed in response to what was identified as a clear "knowledge gap" among parents. Recent research from the London School of Economics in the U.K. showed that only one in 10 parents know how to download music, while children use the Internet extensively to download music.

The leaflet will be available in record stores, supermarkets, schools, libraries and through various Web sites. It will be distributed in each country with national charities and non-governmental bodies, such as Spain's Save the Children, the Netherlands' Children Consumers Foundation, and Italy's National Association for Childhood Protection.

The initiative has received the support of European Union's Commissioner Viviane Reding, responsible for information society and the media. "I welcome this educational initiative which is designed to bridge the knowledge gap between parents and their children when it comes to music on the Internet," she said. "While the Internet offers huge opportunities for the music industry and for creating and sharing music, illegal file sharing on the massive scale that we see today seriously undermines investment in new talent and damages the whole creative chain involved in making music."