Parents to keep closer watch on teen music downloads

When the RIAA filed 261 lawsuits against illegal Internet music downloaders earlier this week, it was a wake-up call to parents of computer-savvy teens. Those being sued include quite a few parents who either didn't know that downloading shared music files for free is illegal or didn't know that their kids were doing it.

"The first thing we did was delete all the files," said Regina Harris, 42, whose 15-year-old son, Ronald, has been downloading music for about a year. "The next thing we did was talk--to make sure it doesn't happen again".

Plenty of parents are now pushing "music downloads" as the main topic at the dinner table.

One parent, Mr Harris of Chicago, whose son had to erase dozens of songs by Eminem, Ja-Rule and others said "I always knew that he was downloading things, but I never knew to what extent. I will definitely be more aware of what he's doing online".

A 54-year-old retired cop from south suburban Oak Forest, being sued by the RIAA, said his teenage stepdaughter had done most of the downloading. "It's easy to blame the kids, [But] you have to watch over your kids. If I had known I was stealing from them, I would not have done it. And I would have told her not to do it," said the cop.

So just how widespread is the act of teens downloading music... In a newly released study by NPD Group (a consumer tracking firm, which based its findings on a survey of 40,000 computer users), it was found that more than two thirds of U.S. households with Internet access had a least one digital music file on their computer while more than half had at least 50 songs. The figure for computers with more than 1000 songs was 8%

NPD's report shows that American households could be hoarding hundreds of millions of copies of illegally downloaded songs.

News source: Chicago Sun Times

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