Teens are aware of copyright law, but many are illegally downloading music anyway. According to results published by a new Harris Interactive Poll on May 18, 88% of the 1,183 respondents sampled say t

LOS ANGELES--Teens are aware of copyright law, but many are illegally downloading music anyway.

According to results published by a new Harris Interactive Poll on May 18, 88% of the 1,183 respondents sampled say they understand that music is protected by copyright. Still, 53% of the group, aged 8 to 18, also say they have downloaded music without paying for it. Tunes in question are commercial; not freeware or shareware.

Harris Interactive conducted the study in April. The Business Software Alliance, an anti-piracy organization whose members include Microsoft and Apple Computer, commissioned the study. Poll results can be accessed at www.bsa.org/usa/research.

The reasons cited for illegal downloading varied. About 51% of those surveyed say a key reason is that teens don't have the money to pay for tracks. Other common responses include 'lots of people do it' (33%); 'it doesn't hurt anybody when I do this' (26%); and 'no one has ever told me not to' (19%).

While teens are concerned about the possible consequences, most (60%) say they are more concerned with accidentally downloading a virus onto their computer than getting into trouble with the law (50%).

Key sources for learning about music protection laws were television (59%), parents (44%), the Internet (44%), advertisements (36%), friends (30%) and teachers (18%).

Based in New York, Harris Interactive is a market research consulting firm best known for its polling work.

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