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Musicmetric Reveals Top 10 UK Cities and Countries for Internet Music Piracy

Monday, Sep 17th, 2012 (9:46 am) - Score 1,225

Musicmetric has released its first Digital Music Index (DMI), which used 18 million observations of P2P activity on BitTorrent file sharing networks to identify that the majority of albums listed are not legal (internet piracy). It also found that people in Manchester (UK) were the biggest downloaders of “illegal” music and that attempts by ISPs to block piracy websites haven’t worked.

The study, which could be used by Rights Holders to fuel calls for an even more aggressive crackdown on internet access and personal privacy, found that 43 million album and single releases were “downloaded” over BitTorrent during the first half of 2012 (both legal and illegal).

Top 20 UK Cities for BitTorrent Downloads
(ARRANGED PER CAPITA for a “truer reflection of concentration“)

1. Manchester 1,317,012
2. Nottingham 598,621
3. Southampton 480,151
4. Liverpool 927,535
5. Sheffield 748,301
6. Leicester 487,406
7. Stoke-on-trent 380,872
8. Glasgow 1,037,934
9. Cardiff 348,603
10. Leeds 566,589
11. Bristol 424,790
12. Edinburgh 519,736
13. Wolverhampton 257,840
14. Derby 195,632
15. Reading 190,053
16. Bradford 233,339
17. Kingston upon Hull 256,479
18. Birmingham 803,741
19. Coventry 198,481
20. London 4,565,502

Apparently the most popular pirated albums in the UK were Ed Sheeran’s – “+ (Plus)”, Rizzle Kicks Stereo Typical and Rihanna’s Talk That Talk. It should be noted that no data was retained by the research and it is not possible to identify any individuals through the anonymous data. Crucially the DMI found that recent blocks against P2P internet piracy sites (e.g. The Pirate Bay) by broadband ISPs had “little effect on BitTorrent downloading“.

Gregory Mead, CEO of Musicmetric, said:

Knowing exactly where your fans are has long been a holy grail for record labels. Understanding what drives them to engage will be vital to helping the industry to really prosper in the coming years.

For the first time, we have evidence that blocking Pirate Bay had little effect on BitTorrent downloading. It is also clear however, that availability of streaming services like Spotify does reduce this activity as people have greater access to music they want via legitimate means.

The challenge for copyright holders is to find ways to monetise music files torrented online. The potential for converting revenue lost through file trading is not entirely a fairy tale, however it will differ with different genres and life stages of artist. While the file sharing network is largely ignored as a proactive channel, little progress can be made on figuring out how this might be possible.”

Interestingly the second largest global downloader of BitTorrent based music was found to be the United Kingdom which, despite its smaller population, still managed to come 2nd in the world with a global share of 8.3% (compared with the USA’s 16.9%).

Top 10 Countries Ranked by Total ‘Unique Downloads’ (Percentage of Global)

1. United States 18,690,819 (16.9%)
2. United Kingdom 9,193,593 (8.3%)
3. Italy 8,281,086 (7.5%)
4. Brazil 7,096,462 (6.4%)
5. Australia 4,386,232 (4.0%)
6. Canada 4,184,900 (3.8%)
7. India 4,003,870 (3.6%)
8. Spain 3,568,069 (3.2%)
9. France 3,539,075 (3.2%)
10. Mexico 2,287,113 (2.1%)

Today’s report also includes an unexpected comment from UK law firm Davenport Lyons. Regular readers might recall that the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) fined and suspended two of the firms lawyers, Brian Laurence Miller and David Joel Gore, last year for their roles in knowingly “targeting people innocent of any copyright breach” via “bullying” letters to broadband ISP customers (here).

Nigel Davies, Partner at Davenport Lyons, said:

These figures bring real context to the downloading debate, although I don’t think people always fully appreciate what they’re doing or the damage it does to songwriters and artists – the very people music fans wouldn’t want to steal from.

The holy grail of any form of social media, advertising and sponsorship is a metric to clearly assess the impact of what’s happening. There’s no substitute for the huge love fans feel for bands, so being able to measure, analyse and capture it in a positive way is critical – metrics are absolutely vital.

There are various measures copyright holders can implement to protect their rights but what’s necessary – particularly in an increasingly converging world – is a combination of effort using the legal system, education and communication. There’s a missing link between communicating what torrents do and what value they lose.

The current trend for production of increasingly enriched content (physical and digital) offers what should be an attractive alternative. The DMI shows having suitable alternatives drives down torrent usage.”

It’s positive to find a larger than expected dose of common sense in today’s report, with most of the main commentators pointing towards the need for fresh business models to target P2P networks. Spotify has clearly done some good work but there’s always room for improvement.

At the same time it must always be remembered that a child who, for example, downloads 500 music tracks online probably never would or could have afforded to buy even close to that many in the real world. Not to mention the difficulty of identify the offending individual on a shared connection.

Meanwhile the government is still intent upon pursuing the Digital Economy Act (DEA), which is designed to attack internet copyright infringement by imposing a series of measures upon ISPs and their customers. This will include a mix of warning letters, court action against repeat offenders, “account suspension” (disconnection) from the internet and possibly more (website blocking, speed restrictions etc.).

However the first piracy notification letters aren’t due to be sent until early 2014 (full details) and the government is still busy trying to find a voluntary solution to website blocking, which the above report clearly says won’t work. A mandatory approach to website blocking, outside of the courts, has already been rejected by Ofcom.

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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