By: MarkJ - 16 December, 2010 (10:37 AM)
copyright pirateThe British Phonographic Industry (BPI) has claimed that 7.7 Million broadband ISP and Mobile Broadband consumers in the UK "illegally download music on a regular basis" (it's actually a civil/unlawful offence). The results come from a September 2010 study of 5,393 people aged between 16 and 54 years old, which was conducted by Harris Interactive.

Harris also estimates that 1.2 Billion tracks will be unlawfully downloaded in 2010, which represents approximately three quarters of all music obtained digitally. A separate study by Jupiter Research indicated that the recording industry’s resulting losses from foregone spend would be £219m in 2010.

The study claims that P2P (File Sharing, BitTorrent etc.) abuse accounts for 23% of all "illegal" music downloads, which has apparently grown by +7% over the past 6 months. The use of non-P2P channels is also rising. Some 13% of internet users were using direct website links to access music unlawfully from "cyberlockers", while 12% use MP3 search engines.

However legal sales of Digital Singles could well top 160m in 2010, beating 2009's record of 149.7m by over 10m. The BPI also expects digital albums to sell around 21m copies this year, easily beating the 16.1m sales total in 2009. The BPI believes that the market would grow even faster if not for such unlawful activity.

Geoff Taylor, BPI Chief Executive, said:

"Digital music is now mainstream in the UK, with much to be proud of – nearly 70 legal services and a further increase in the numbers of digital singles and albums set to be sold online in 2010.

Yet this growth is a fraction of what it ought to be. Illegal downloading continues to rise in the UK. It is a parasite that threatens to deprive a generation of talented young people of their chance to make a career in music, and is holding back investment in the fledgling digital entertainment sector.

As the internet becomes central to many aspects of our lives, including how we access our entertainment, we must decide whether we can afford as a society to abandon ethical values we stand by elsewhere - that stealing is wrong; that creativity should be rewarded; that our culture defines who we are, and must be protected.

The creative industries employ two million people in the UK and are the fastest growing sector of the economy. Urgent action is needed to protect those jobs and allow Britain to achieve its potential in the global digital market. 2011 must be the year that the Government acts decisively to ensure the internet supports creativity and respects the basic rules of fair play we embrace as a nation."

The comments effectively amount to a pre-emptive strike against next year's Judicial Review of the controversial Digital Economy Act 2010 (DEA), which was recently won by the combined effort of BT and TalkTalk UK (here). Suffice to say that the BPI isn't happy with the slow pace of progress, which it believes is hindering the markets expansion.

The act itself threatens to use notoriously unreliable IP address based evidence to identify broadband users "suspected" of unlawful copyright P2P File Sharing activity (at best this only identifies the connection owner, which could be a hotel or shared business network etc.). It could also lead to the blocking of legitimate websites, service speed restrictions, limits on open Wi-Fi usage, account disconnection ("suspension") from your ISP or disclosure of private personal details to Rights Holders for legal action.

As usual the BPI only represents one side of the argument, which often makes the mistake of assuming that everything downloaded unlawfully is equal to a similar level of lost sales. However a teenager who downloads 500 music tracks is highly unlikely to ever have brought that many in the first place (no money).

Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group UK, said:

"The BPI are whinging that massive growth in their profits in the middle of a recession isn't good enough. But they claim that this isn't good enough, and argue for measures that would curtail innocent people's human rights in order to increase their profits. That is immorral."

The survey also casts doubt on the effectiveness of unlawful file sharing deterrents. Just 12% of people who had stopped filesharing cited worries over being "caught". A substantial proportion of unlawful P2P downloader's also claim not to realise that their actions are wrong (44%). This rises to 56% for people downloading via direct website links and cyberlockers.

UPDATE 12:40pm

Added a comment from the Open Rights Group.
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Comments: 7

asa logotimeless
Posted: 16 December, 2010 - 2:19 PM
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just like any other business, all they are after is money.. its never about the end listener, its always about how much dough they end up with in their pockets and how many Caribbean mansions they can buy.
asa logoDaniel Palmer
Posted: 16 December, 2010 - 3:52 PM
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I expect the results of this would have changed when Limewire got shut down on 26th October. Would be interesting to see results of a future study.
asa logotimeless
Posted: 17 December, 2010 - 1:25 AM
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to be honest l expect government intervention of some sort, and am half expecting some dimwit who is biased to rule for the recording companies.. after all look how the DEA was rushed through parliament without any scrutiny without any technical issues and concerns voiced.. its bound to happen, tho if lm wrong l shall eat my hat.. but tbh l will see it when l believe it.
asa logoCarrot63
Posted: 17 December, 2010 - 1:31 AM
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@ Timeless - couldn't have put it better myself.

The so-called "creative" industry pulling more than a little creative accounting with the facts and figures as usual - are 10 percent of the workforce really employed by these people?

Actually Geoff, the industry has very little to be proud of. The reason we've got to where we are is your long time steadfast refusal to consider the internet for distribution, and continued obstinacy in refusing to accept that the vastly declined quality of your product means the glory days of "squeeze 'em till they bleed" pricing are over. The fig leaf of CD production is over.

And skip the lip-quivering 'ethics' lecture; your threats, half truths and wheedlings to pass the DEA, and the bullying of frequently innocent people via ACSlaw + associated scum leaves your industry somewhere between "MP" and "lobbyist" in the ethical top ten.
asa logotimeless
Posted: 17 December, 2010 - 5:28 AM
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especially when you take into account that they count each download as a lost sale, the question is "how many downloads were they tracking that only contained ONE track taken from a whole CD or website?" and "how many went on to buy the CD because they liked it?" then again a majority of sharers actually bought the CD and shared it as far as the stats l have heard.
asa logoPierre Dowing
Posted: 22 December, 2010 - 2:44 AM
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Speaking of BPI, it might interest you to know a few other statistics that I found pretty interesting. Anyway, hereís the post, if youíre interested:

Hope this helps :]
asa logopaultomasi
Posted: 3 January, 2011 - 7:08 PM
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if i have already purchased (or posess) a particular track then i don't expect to pay to download a digital version of it!

it's about time ownership on music material was capped at just 5 years after which time it becomes public domain.

the record industry killed the MiniDisc industry before it even got off the ground. their GREED crushed the MD. one of the greatest inventions of modern times is MP3 technology. because it's our way of fighting back!

i've never liked their prices. when CDs became fashionable, instead of lowering prices, they hiked them up - even though CDs were far cheaper to produce than cassette tapes or records.

just sheer greed...

so, please excuse ME for being greedy while i FREELY download my next MP3!

music is art. art should be free for all to enjoy!

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