Huh? Plunge in Music Piracy Fails To Halt Decline In Sales

The music industry has been screaming that piracy of copyrighted music was killing their profits. A recent report from the UK telecoms regulator said that music piracy was down, but the big music corporations didn’t start celebrating. While digital theft is down, music sales are not going back up. This is not the only surprising fact that came out of the report.pirate3_1

The TorrentFreak website has quite a few articles about piracy and its effects. They’ve talked about how music sales and box office sales both are high with groups of people who “steal” music or movies. While a lot of the data comes from the UK, this doesn’t take away from its value. In fact, many other countries have done similar studies and research about music piracy.

Do good music pirates exist? Some say yes. A Columbia University study published earlier this year showed that peer-to-peer “piracy” networks in the U.S. were full of users who legally purchased 30% more music than other people who don’t pirate music. That is quite a difference, and goes to show that looking at the numbers is always a good idea.

The report also showed that many people really dislike bandwidth throttling, Internet access suspension and “criminal prosecution and fines” for media piracy. Playing devil’s advocate,  Timothy B. Lee of Ars Technica has said that the data doesn’t necessarily mean those heavy P2P users would’ve have bought even more music if they hadn’t got so much for free.

Wireless carriers and Internet Service Providers are receiving pressure from media companies to do more to combat copyright theft. For example, Verizon has thought about slowing connection speeds for repeat offenders. Time Warner says they have the right to cut off Internet access “even for a single act of copyright infringement.”

According to the data, 80% of Americans think it’s fine to share copyrighted material with family members. And 60% think it’s okay to do so with friends. Fewer think it’s okay to give it anyway to anyone – or to sell it – but the numbers are indeed interesting. People who are younger are more likely to be okay with sharing digital content than older people, which isn’t really surprising.

What is surprising is that the Columbia University study was commissioned by Google, the search engine giant. In the study, around 53% of people said that search engines should block links to pirated material and not make it so easily accessible. Google hasn’t officially made a comment about that, but there’s a good chance they’re not happy with the number because of how much lost ad revenue would result from blocking the listings.

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