Late in 2009, the UK passed the Digital Economy Bill. It was designed to combat the problem of online music piracy. If repeat offenders failed to cease downloading stolen music, they would face legal action. Ask Joel Tenenbaum if the music business is serious about pursuing these types of cases. A few months later, how has the bill affected music piracy in the UK?
Not much. According to a recent music industry survey conducted by Harris Interactive, levels of piracy have not declined. Twenty-three percent of those surveyed admitted to using peer-to-peer sites to download files. And maybe some of the other 77 percent were fibbing? Anyway, the thrust of the survey is that P2P downloads are still the major source of illegal file sharing, with overseas mp3 sites being of particular concern.
Harris Interactive managed to find some very honest people for their survey: those people who admitted to illegal downloading, also admitted that they planned not only to continue illegal downloading, but they planned to do it more. Geoff Taylor, chief exec of BPI (UK’s music industry representative), says, “There are now more than 35 legal digital music services in the UK, offering music fans a great choice of ways to get music legally. It’s disappointing that levels of illegal P2P use remain high despite this and the publicity surrounding imminent measures to address the problem. It’s vital that those measures come into force as quickly as possible.”
These measures include cutting off internet services for these repeat offenders under the Digital Economy Bill – watch out, you 23 percent. You’re on a list now. Some are recommending that instead of policing music piracy and the people who download illegally, they compete with piracy. Martin Lewis, a journalist and frequent TV guest in the UK, says, “The music industry needs to wake up and embrace price competition. It’s facing annihilation from illegally download tracks, yet there are still remnants of an attitude that price doesn’t make a difference. If it’s promoted cheaper, legit music [would] mean fewer illegal downloads.”
He points out that buying UK’s top albums at the cheapest store (which people can find by looking at his site, Tunechecker), they could save a lot of money over buying it on iTunes. If they had a legal source that made sense financially, they’d use it. Very few people probably download files illegally for the thrill of doing something wrong; most would be perfectly willing to shell out – just not as much as they paid sites are asking for now.
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