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Survey Finds File Sharing Dropping In UK

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A recently released Music Ally/The Leading Question survey reports that the overall percentage of regular file sharers in the UK has dropped 5% from December 2007 to January 2009. Or at least those who admit to file sharing. Yet the percentage of music fans that have ever file-shared has increased from 28% to 31% over the same time period.

According to Music Ally CEO Paul Brindley, “File sharing is a moving target, so industry and Government policies need to recognize this. “It’s already being somewhat displaced by other means of accessing music for free. Some are licensed, many are not licensed and some involve a bit of both. Kids find services like YouTube much more convenient for checking out new music than filesharing. But even YouTube can become a source of piracy with some kids ripping YouTube videos and turning them into free MP3 downloads.”

True. I’m not sure if I believe kids when they say that they aren’t illegally downloading. Frankly I think that the little buggers lie like hell about that kind of stuff. But if they’re lying it also means that they know what they’re doing and are scared. 

In my opinion, the content industry and the music business specifically is getting some real traction in their lobbying efforts in the EU. The RIAA has evidently been effective in moving the US government to put pressure on foreign governments who need to do business and don’t want some snot nosed, in your face, commie, left wing, twenty-something kids screwing things up. 

EU governments are really getting serious and applying a lot of pressure to ISP’s to start policing illegal downloading. Spain, France, the UK, Sweden, are all initiating “get tough” policies that are getting a lot of attention from the public and the media. I’m not sure if the same is happening in the US anytime soon though. As one major label exec told me, “We don’t see the same thing happening in the US on the near horizon.” 

Tim Walker, CEO of The Leading Question, said “Ultimately we believe that the best way to beat piracy is to create great new licensed services that are easier and more fun to use, whether that’s an unlimited streaming service like Spotify or a service like the one recently announced by Virgin which aims to offer unlimited MP3 downloads as well as unlimited streams.”

True again. But someone said something interesting in a meeting I was in recently that struck everyone there and presented a new justification for holding the ISP’s feet to the fire. Basically, the ISP’s are making billions from broadband, and if weren’t for media companies and especially entertainment content creators, there really wouldn’t be a need for broadband. A 9600 baud modem would be sufficient. He had a point. And one that content owners immediately jumped on.

I was having dinner the other night with some friends and we were talking about the renegades who are still out there trying to beat the system. We all came to the same conclusion: its too much trouble trying to get rich quick by offering pirated content. . It’s just not worth it. There’s just no way to win in the end and life is way to short. But the record industry still has to be sensitive to their customers, even if they do eventually win the war.



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