Most illegal downloaders are secondary or university students, poll finds Surplus teachers are to be hired to educate students about respect for the laws and ethics of copyright, after a survey found many secondary and university students took part in illegal file sharing and downloading. The Intellectual Property Department plans to launch a tutor programme in which qualified teachers will be recruited to teach the subject to Form One students. The aim is to arouse awareness and respect for intellectual property rights among youngsters. Teachers will receive specialist training on the issues. The tutor scheme is to be launched jointly with the Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union next month. The programme will provide part-time jobs for teachers being put out of work by shrinking school rolls. It was not immediately known how many teachers would be needed for the programme. 'A recent survey we commissioned showed most who visited unauthorised websites and downloaded MP3s, movies, e-books, games and shared files with friends were below 30 years, mostly secondary and university students,' the director of the Intellectual Property Department, Stephen Selby, said. 'We will put more resources into educating the public, especially students. This is why we will introduce the tutor programme this year.' He said some children under 12 had never bought a genuine CD as they found downloading from websites cheap and easy. 'This clearly shows how important it is for us to educate our younger generation, who only know that it is cheap to download songs from websites,' Mr Selby said. 'They are only concerned about saving money, and have no concept about respecting intellectual property at all.' Of the 1,214 people interviewed by phone last November, about 95 per cent said they considered it necessary to protect intellectual property rights; 76 per cent said infringement of such rights in Hong Kong was a serious problem. Only 10 per cent of the interviewees said they often downloaded MP3s, movies, e-books, games or shared files; about 80 per cent said they had never downloaded anything. But Movies Producers and Distributors Association executive secretary Tony Shu Tat-ming questioned the findings and said there had to be more people illegally downloading. He welcomed the work of the Customs and Intellectual Property departments in protecting copyright. The poll showed Customs' efforts had begun to pay off because about 43 per cent said it was more difficult to buy pirated goods, compared with 32 per cent last year. 'The increase clearly shows the Customs Department is carrying out effective measures to crack down on piracy, as the problem about easy access to pirated goods is not as serious as before,' Mr Selby said. The department will devote $700 million this year to promotion and publicity programmes targeted at young people who spend long periods surfing the net. Meanwhile, lawmakers urged the government to extend the public consultation period on certain provisions of the Copyright Ordinance, which began last month and is due to end on February 15. Lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah said that given the controversy triggered by the enactment of the previous Copyright Ordinance, there was too little time for the public to consider the changes in a period interrupted by Christmas-New Year. Chan Kam-lam said the government should step up promoting the consultation so as to create more intense public discussion on the issue. Deputy Secretary for commerce, industry and technology Mary Chow Shuk-ching said the government had been continuously collecting opinions from sectors affected by the ordinance.