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New research conducted by YouGov has discovered that the youth of the UK care not one whit for the authenticity of the goods they purchase and that almost half own something pirated or counterfeit.

In fact, of the 18-29 year-olds surveyed, 44 per cent had bought a fake, and only eight per cent thought their family and friends would disapprove of such a purchase. By contrast, only 17 per cent of the over 50 age group admitted owning anything counterfeit.

The attitude towards copyright infringement is still that it is a soft, and socially acceptable, crime. The survey asked respondents to rate how acceptable certain actions were, on a scale of one (or zero) to 10. Zero being totally unacceptable and 10 being perfectly OK. Downloading pirated songs from the Net averaged just over five out of ten, while stealing from an independent shop scored less than one.

The Business Software Alliance argues that there is, morally at least, no difference between the two scenarios: both are stealing and as such morally and socially unacceptable. In a statement issued today, Siobhan Carroll, Regional Manager Northern Europe, BSA said: "It is of particular concern that respect of copyright seems to be falling steadily, generation by generation, and piracy is becoming so ubiquitous at work and play."

Copyright law barely enters our heads when we buy pirated goods, either: 28 per cent of those surveyed said they didn't think about it at all. However, respondents said that tougher fines - double or more of the value of the genuine item - would be a strong deterrent.

In its statement, the BSA also said that it was "the combination of lucrative profits and lax penalties has attracted large organised crime gangs into the piracy trade". The vast majority - 85 per cent - of those surveyed said that they would be put off buying counterfeit goods if they knew that the money was going to fund money launderers, drug smugglers or human traffickers. ®

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