ASCAP (The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) and i-SAFE, the leader in Internet safety education, have partnered to create the nation´s first comprehensive educational program addressing why personal piracy of music and other creative content is harmful. Titled "The Donny the Downloader Experience," this new program is being presented in schools across the U.S.

Since its launch in February, the program has already reached nearly a quarter of a million students through assemblies and an interactive curriculum. Early research collected from a pool of 680 students (grades 6-8) who participated in the program found the following:

  • 67 percent have a better understanding of what is legal to download
  • 66 percent believe that someone is harmed if they download music without paying for it
  • 60 percent said they were now more likely to use legal online stores for downloading music
  • 67 percent said they were less likely to accept illegally downloaded music from friends

Multi-Media Assembly Brings the Issues to Life

The centerpiece of The Donny the Downloader Experience curriculum is a multi-media school assembly program featuring fast-paced animated videos starring the misadventures of Donny. Donny is a 14-year old who´s tech-savvy, but unaware of the bigger picture of why illegal downloading hurts the same performing artists and songwriters whose music he loves. The program centers on the negative reactions from the other kids and adults in his life who he tries to impress with his access to supposedly "free" music, while demystifying the process of how music is created.

In addition to the animated "Donny" segments, the assembly also features compelling video segments that introduce real-life, 17-year-old aspiring music creator, Sonya Bender. The videos follow Sonya as she meets with music creators, producers and publishers to get an unfiltered perspective on how illegally downloaded music negatively impacts their ability to make a living from being creative. The assembly experience also includes an interactive component, where students perform a special "Donny" skit to help reinforce what they´ve learned.

Educating Children on the Value of Creative Work

Concerns over the punitive legal approach being taken against the music consuming public, especially young people, inspired ASCAP to explore alternatives that would educate children at an age before they begin to illegally download music online. After gathering data and conducting numerous focus groups, ASCAP found that the following concept struck a chord with kids: "When you illegally download, you hurt more people than you think." Further research showed that on average, students are beginning to illegally download music in their pre-teen years ? making it critical to reach them with educational programs at the middle school level.

"The Donny the Downloader Experience is the first program of its kind, and is an extremely important initiative for ASCAP given that the very livelihood of our music creators is in jeopardy due to music piracy," said Phil Crosland, executive vice president of Marketing for ASCAP. "Education is a critical part of the process, in terms of helping kids understand the tangible value of creative intellectual property like songs. We have found that ?Donny´ strongly resonates with young people, and helps them recognize on a personal level that downloading music illegally hurts many more people than they might otherwise realize."

"Our partnership with ASCAP has helped to bring another critical Internet-related issue into our educational curriculum," said Teri Schroeder, CEO-program director, i-SAFE. "As young people increasingly live their lives online, music piracy continues to be a topic of major concern. We are pleased to offer one of the first effective educational efforts supporting the value of copyrighted material and the impact of downloading on those who create it." To date, i-SAFE´s programs have reached more than 2.8 million students.

For more information and to view a video excerpt of The Donny the Downloader Experience, please visit Educators and others who would like to conduct this assembly may request materials by creating an account at The CD/DVD set is also available for purchase through i-SAFE´s online store:


Established in 1914, ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) is the first and leading U.S. Performing Rights Organization representing the world´s largest repertory totaling over 8.5 million copyrighted musical works of every style and genre from more than 295,000 composer, lyricist and music publisher members. ASCAP also represents the repertories created by the international affiliates of 90 foreign performing rights organizations. ASCAP protects the rights of its members and foreign affiliates by licensing the public performances of their copyrighted works and distributing royalties based upon surveyed performances. ASCAP is the only American Performing Rights Organization owned and governed by its writer and publisher members.

About i-SAFE

Founded in 1998 and active in all 50 states, i-SAFE Inc. is the leader in Internet safety education. i-SAFE is a nonprofit foundation whose mission is to educate and empower youth to make their Internet experiences safe and responsible. The goal is to educate students to avoid dangerous, inappropriate, or unlawful online behavior. i-SAFE accomplishes this through dynamic K through 12 curriculum and community-outreach programs to parents, law enforcement, and community leaders. It is the only Internet safety foundation to combine these elements.

i-SAFE Inc. is designated a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) charitable organization by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. i-SAFE Inc. is funded by the U.S. Congress through the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, Department of Justice.

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