Behind the Numbers: Internet Integrity

Erroneously feeling that information is knowledge, students are taking advantage of the widespread availability of "Internet paper mills" that were once relegated to back alleys or discreetly passed by word-of-mouth.

A male student had this to say about cheating in a quote from a Magna Publications article: "Cheating is not really considered a bad thing by students... it's kind of like going over the speed limit. 

Is that why 17 million Americans (more than half of the Internet users) say they have found ways outside of paid online services to share music or video files, according to the most recent survey of the Pew Internet & American Life Project? Or, from an earlier Pew study, why 58 percent of music downloaders do not care whether or not the music downloaded onto their computer is copyrighted? 

In all, says the March 2005 Pew Survey, 48 percent of current downloaders have used sources other than peer-to-peer networks or paid music and movie services to get music or video files. In addition, about half of all Americans and Internet users believe that the firms that own and operate file-sharing networks should be responsible for the pirating of music and movie files, while less than 20 percent feel the "traders" should bear the responsibility. 

The Pew survey concludes that the struggle to enforce copyright laws in the digital age is an uphill battle. Attitude towards copyrighted material online has remained dismissive, even amidst widespread media coverage and legal action. While the music downloading audience has grown to roughly 35 million American adults, 26 million say they share files online. Finally, it's a personal thing, as 42 percent of all Americans believe that government enforcement would not work well and 57 percent of broadband users believe there is not much the government can do to reduce illegal file sharing.



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