They use advertising, the courts, electronic locks, and none of it seems to work. People are still downloading an array of media from the web ("pirating" – a rather poor term). One reason for the continuing flow, according to two British researchers, is that people just don’t think what they’re doing is wrong, much less a crime.

The study was commissioned to find out if the anti-piracy message was having an impact on people’s attitudes.

Most campaigns in the UK have focused on the damage being done by software or film piracy.

They have also pushed the idea that consumers are supporting organised crime when they buy a game or DVD from someone in the street.

Despite ads in the cinema, magazines and newspapers, the message is falling on deaf ears.

I’m certainly not in favor of people stealing movies, software, music or other digital content. However, the overtly big-brotherish ads the motion picture people are using ("If you think you can get away with illegally trafficking in movies, think again.") are not in the least effective. Obviously, neither is the threat of legal action.

On the other end of things, the media industries would love to add all kinds of digital locks to their content – mandated by law if possible. But history has shown that such things only offer a challenge to a few very talented people and make using the media difficult and annoying for the rest of us.

So, what’s the answer? I hate to tell the fat cat big media guys but they will never, NEVER completely eliminate the theft of their product. That’s just the reality of putting content in digital form. Once the file is available to more than one person, someone will find a way around any gate you put up.

The best they can do is create good content, at a fair price, that makes it convenient for people to move it around and use it any way they want to. I’d be willing to bet that any company adopting that approach will create a lot of something they are losing tons of now – customers.