Darren Waters

How damaging is illegal file-sharing?

  • Darren Waters
  • 12 May 09, 00:01 GMT

It's an emotive and nebulous issue - exactly how damaging is illegal file-sharing to the creative industries?

Image of man listening to downloaded musicGenerally, it is widely accepted that illegal file-sharing causes great damage and means artists from all kinds of backgrounds are not being paid for the professional work they have done.

Specifically, the creative industries have gone to great lengths to spell out the damage done by file-sharing copyright content without permission.

In today's joint statement from the UK creative industries, the government is urged to force internet service providers to ban persistent file-sharers and a very specific charge is laid.

It says up to 800,000 jobs in the creative industries, out of 1.8 million in total, are threatened.

That's almost half of the entire industry which, the statement says, contributes £112.5bn in revenue to the economy, equivalent to 8% of GDP.

The quoted figure comes from a report produced by consultants called Europe Economics, which was commissioned by one of the creative bodies.

However, it's not so clear cut.

The 1.8 million figure refers to all jobs in the creative industries and related "upstream and downstream sectors".

The 800,000 figure relates to jobs specifically in the film, TV, music and software sectors, including upstream and downstream sectors.

But nowhere in the Europe Economics report does it say that "up to 800,000 jobs are at threat from illegal file-sharing". The figure is used to simply state the size of the four sectors.

As one of the people involved in that report said to me: "Someone could reasonably say that all these jobs are under threat from piracy but this is not to be confused with us saying that 800,000 jobs would be lost if piracy were not eliminated."

In fact, the report talks about "employment gains to be had from a reduction in piracy being very large indeed". Specifically, the report says that almost 10,000 new jobs would be created if peer-to-peer piracy was 100% eliminated.

Without question, piracy threatens jobs, but have the creative industries been a bit loose with their maths and language in order to strike an emotive point?

In fact, the report is strewn with strong language:

• The alliance is "unprecedented"
• Call for "urgent action to save jobs"
• A "unique coalition"
• "Urgent set of recommendations"
• Once in a generation chance to save existing jobs
• "Unprecedented consensus"
• "Critical time"
• "Lawless free for all"

It is clear that the creative industries have run out of patience with the internet service providers, who have long attempted to avoid being turned into the police force of the net.

The problem for the creative industries is that so many people are blase about the impact of piracy.

For example, when a pre-production version of the Hollywood blockbuster movie Wolverine was leaked on the net an estimated four million people downloaded a copy, and the FBI was called in to investigate.

However, critics pointed out that the film went on to make $160m in five days across more than 100 different countries, including about $85m in North America alone.

Apparently Fox, the studio behind the film, believe the takings would have topped $100m in North America had it not been for the leak.

However, figures like $160m do little to convince sceptics who believe the effect of illegal file-sharing is overstated.

As part of the joint statement by the UK alliance of creatives, John Woodward, chief executive of the UK Film Council, says explicitly that the effect of illegal file-sharing is that "films go unmade, DVD sales deteriorate and jobs are lost in production and distribution of content".

He could not be more clear in assessing the impact of unauthorised peer to peer file sharing. But will anyone listen?


  • Comment number 1.

    It's laughable that the UK Film Council blames illegal file sharing as the root of the film industries problem. The UKFC should try opening their doors a bit wider to funding rather than the narrow, London based film making hegemony that seems to dominate the majority of its funding decisions. If they did this, more films would get made. It's getting to a point whereby film makers can't find funding, are ignored by the UKFC and the only way they can get their films seen is BY file sharing.

    Jobs are not lost to production by file sharing, they are lost by a lack of funding of which there is precious little in the UK for film. Just because the piracy battle on DVD has been lost (and yes, those pirate DVDs do fund crime) they turn on spotty teenagers downloading crud like 'Lesbian Vampire Killers' and TV shows that are unavailable over here in the UK.

    All the talk about 'Wolverine' being copied and losing revenue is complete cobblers. This weeks box office takings shows this. If anything, it publicised the film more!

    I've never read such knee jerk reactionary rubbish in all my life. If they really wanted to grow jobs they should be promoting private investment into the industry and not slapping schoolkids with injunctions and ISP providers with lawsuits when it's nothing to do with them in the first place.

  • Comment number 2.

    If there was a leak at the studio of the Wolverine film, doesn't that tell these people something? Shouldn't they be checking their own people before they start complaining about everyone else?

  • Comment number 3.

    Its not the downloading of illegal files that makes peer-to-peer so scary to the big distributors, its the fact that the big distributors are scared senseless that their sown-up distribution network could be threatened and people could launch an effective career without having to depend upon them. Their jobs are threatened as peer-to-peer has the potential to end their carefully managed monopoly, and has little to nothing to do with illegal file sharing.

  • Comment number 4.

    Lies, damned lies and statistics...

    Just more propoganda from the media cartel middlemen pulling numbers out of their nether regions, to preserve their roles as cultural gatekeepers. The IFPI is as obsolete in the 21st century as their name - somebody forgot to tell them the phonograph went obsolete about 2 decades ago. Their business model and thinking is hopelessly lost in the last century.

    These multinationals DO NOT represent real artists who by and large are embracing the new mediums, and realize they don't need middlemen to represent them:

    MEPs voted 407 to 57 against extra-judicial disconnections last week. Unless you want to see the US model of grandmothers sued or disconnected for allegedly downloading death metal rap these lobbyists should be told to take a long walk off a short pier.

  • Comment number 5.

    This is absolute rubbish as per usual. The film companies are only concerned because they don't make any extra profit.

    They don't lose profit at all. And when they are making 160 million US out of one single film one has to ask where all that money goes if the people whose jobs are at risk are not actually getting it.

    It's about time the music industry, games industry and film industry execs stopped snorting coke and woke up. The monolopy they have had for a long time in terms of distribution is coming to an end and the sooner they embrace the means in which the consumer wishes to access their content the sooner any concerns over illegal file sharing will go away.

    And it's funny how the interweb is the root of all evil when it comes to sharing a DVD or CD but I can quite happily pop down the road and borrow my mates DVD collection and the "entertainment" industry doesn't bat an eyelid...

  • Comment number 6.

    The question is not whether or not we must stop illegal file-sharing, the question is : is it possible ? and the answer is : no
    Current p2p software can be stopped, but new ones will appear. And with Friend2Friend sharing, like OneSwarm, it will be unstoppable.
    So we need to find a way to live with it.

  • Comment number 7.

    What they seem to forget, is that the ISP's users are PAYING CUSTOMERS. Disconnecting them left, right and center because of how they're using the service will just generate VERY annoyed users (not least because they'll feel spied upon), as they ring up customer support to ask what they are paying for / how long their service is going to be out / can they please change to another ISP if this one isn't going to give them internet access anymore. Even if it's just a 1-day disconnect, it'll still be enough to generate TONS of complaints. If it's longer than that, it'll cause people to switch ISPs, paying customers don't mess around like that.

    So, no. What they're asking for is pretty much unworkable in the real world, and will just generate resentment if they try it, to say the least. I certainly feel sorry for anyone working in an ISP cell center if this stuff does go through.

  • Comment number 8.

    I hold my hands up, I peer2peer - according to this report I'm costing the industry millions, false. Since I've been on peer2peer I've spend a great deal more of my money on CD's, DVD's and even a live gig because I'm able to try anything and judge it purely on its merits.

    I buy about 20-30% of the things I download, not a case of me 'stealing' but a case of 70-80% of stuff being a little less than mediocre.

    How many times have a film company promised the next blockbuster only to be greeted by a lame badly written farce - Batman and Robin was a prime example, the adverts promised the world and I fell asleep in the pictures 'cos I was so board. Cost me a fiver for an hours kip.

    This is how it works
    If people love your product and have the money they will buy it.
    If people love your product but don't have the money to pay for it they are going to try and pirate it, creates a brand loyalty and they will pay for it when they have the money

    So long live peer2peer the ultimate try before you buy.

  • Comment number 9.

    Bands make less money from CD sales, so they tour more. This is great in my opinion. I've seen more bands locally recently. Data is so easy to copy, it really has little value. A live experience, on the other hand, will always have value.

  • Comment number 10.

    I too would dispute the claims of damages and jobs losses put forward by the industry pundits. However the talk of damages is a bit like the talk of Iraq and and weapons of mass destruction. Even if there had been some weapons I think it would have still been wrong to go there. The point is that making war on the file sharers is not the solution and the various bodies are shooting themselves and the artists they claim to represent only in the leg by keeping this up. The P2P goes on because it is an unparalleled service. If I had access to all the TV shows/movies in the world for maybe $2-3 per TV episode w/o DRM, I might spend 500-1000 dollars per year on this. This is new business, money I would not spend on DVDs. I think DVDs and CDs clumsy things and don't want them but want access to the content and all of it and with no restrictions. Industry parcels access by country and by continent and they do not work together to create the services people want. People vote with their digital feet.

  • Comment number 11.

    Most people want to buy content, just look at the success that Apple is having with iTunes & the iPhone.

    Most of the downloads that people make are of songs that they would not pay for. It's listened to a couple of times and that's all.

    It's the same thing with movies. If you are not sure wether you will like a filem why spend 15 pounds on it ?

    The individual who downloads is not costing the industry very much. The people to go after are the industrial scale production of fakes.

  • Comment number 12.

    If the entertainment industry wants to be taken seriously on this topic, they need to start being realistic in their claims. The more hyperbole and dummy-spitting they use, the more they distance themselves from reality.

    Are sales and revenues down more than any other sector and can any of this be attributed directly to piracy?

    On another note, if you give ISPs fictional data with which they can reduce the amount of bandwidth they allow customers, they will use it. It's in their interest to charge for bandwidth you can't use.

    Tone down the hyperbole: piracy doesn't fund terrorism any more than any other industry, legal or otherwise, and it doesn't throw people on the streets, destitute and ruined. For a start, it's not theft in any real legal way - it's copyright infringement and doesn't deprive an owner of their property or cause a direct loss of a sale.

    Show us what it really does to content producers and let us act on it in a calm and rational way.

  • Comment number 13.

    1. P2P in itself is not unlawful or illegal and has many legitimate uses. File-sharing is perfectly legal. File-sharing of copyright material is perfectly legal with the rights holder's consent.

    2. File-sharing (of copyright material without the rights holder's consent) is not illegal nor is it theft. The film and music industry need to stop perpetuating this myth. It is unlawful and contravenes the law on copyright infringement. Those who would say it's the same thing should consult a lawyer.

    3. Stop conflating film piracy (I use the term loosely) with P2P file-sharing. P2P file-sharing does not fund organised crime. It funds nobody, as the whole point is to share at no cost! Mass produced far-east cheap copies may fund crime, but P2P does not.

    4. The film and music industry want us to think that every download is a lost sale. They know perfectly well that this is completely untrue. If people can't afford the product, cutting off access to a copy of it will not make them buy it.

    5. The downright offensive "you wouldn't steal a car" trailers on DVDs which I have legally bought infuriating and are certainly not going to put me off downloading anything. Stop insulting/annoying your paying customers - they don't like it. Who else sells you something and starts by saying "if you're a thief..."?

  • Comment number 14.

    If ISP's start banning people for P2P, all that will happen is that the method of downloading will change. There are countless ways around this. Initially the sequence of events will probably be ..

    1) P2P users will start looking for ways of hijacking or hacking other peoples connections.

    2) P2P software will become more advanced so it deos not need a central server.

  • Comment number 15.

    There's a whole market of people who want to buy content, but the industry is so far behind the times in their distribution methods.

    Discs are just clutter and I don't want to watch most films more then once
    Music downloads are of poorer quality than CD or have DRM
    Movie downloads are non-existent in the UK
    TV series often don't get transmitted in the UK or are much later than the US

    All this leads to people getting content illegally, but via a delivery mechanism and in a format that they want it.

    Put it this way: If the content is already out there illegally then why not make the same thing available to buy? Let me pay £3, say, to download a 5GB HD mkv file of a movie that's already on Pirate Bay. At least the producers will get some money out of me rather than nothing.

    Even better, set up an honesty box website. If I've downloaded something and I like it, let me go somewhere to give some money to the company. Zero distribution costs, they get money and I've got my content.

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    The industry does not have the right to exist indefinitely. It exists to connect the artist to the public. When the industry's function is redundant it should die gracefully.

    With the technology that exists today, artists are beginning to do just that (e.g. Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead). We should be encouraging artists to connect to us directly, so we can cut out the middlemen, lowering costs for the consumer and increasing income for the artists.

  • Comment number 18.

    The Internet connections used by file-sharers are rarely only used for file-sharing. And (I suspect) rarely used by only the file-sharers.

    It would make just as much sense for the "creative industries" to ask electricity companies to disconnect the electricity of file-sharers because some of the electricity is being used to breach copyright.

    Whenever file-sharers live with other people, disconnecting their Internet connection or electricity is a form of collective punishment.

    When the Internet connection belongs to another person, and they have taken reasonable steps to prevent the file-sharing, it is also unreasonable to punish them with disconnection (just as parents are not locked up as punishment for the crimes of their children).

    Finally, the law already provides relief for copyright owners to take civil action against those they accuse of breaching their copyrights. I believe that there has not been a compelling case put forward by the "creative industries" that additional forms of relief are required.

    - Miles.

  • Comment number 19.

    File sharing isn't illegal. Huge amounts of entirely legal applications, such as many of the most popular current games, use Peer-to-Peer to make patches and updates available. If the ISPs start throttling or kicking people for using P2P applications and protocols, they'll hit the legitimate users far more than the illegitimate ones, who will just switch to different methods of getting what they want. The ISPs know this. It appears that the "creative industries" as this report calls them either don't know or don't care.

    This report, like so many others, is totally missing the point - primarily because, as usual, it's funded by the same big business that was going to be utterly destroyed by tape and video recording facilities being available to the masses, yet survived.

    The people who are being hurt are the low-volume, low value, creators such as small software houses and studios, who still have to pay staff and still have to pay bills, but only sell a couple of hundred copies of what they create at most. The music and film industries cry into their bank balances that they "only" made x number of millions profit this year. The smaller companies regularly don't make a profit at all on what they create, or one that barely covers living costs.

    The whole debate about breach of copyright is being skewed by people who see it as an opportunity to line their own pockets a bit thicker, rather than by those it is really hurting. Because any vaguely intelligent person can see that the music and film industries are hurting themselves more than they are helping with the hyperbole and over-stated claims, they write off the entire problem as non-existent. It isn't, it's just that you rarely hear from the people who it really hurts, because they can't afford to commission reports and pay PR companies to put forward their perspective and the real effects that illegal file sharing and breach of copyright have.

  • Comment number 20.

    The reality is that no one has ever been able to demonstrate any actual loss of revenue as a result of file-sharing. In general, this is a cry from poorly performing content producers whose product fails to generate revenue simply because of poor quality content!

    The truth is that many file-sharers use the mechanism as a 'try before you buy' and many of those that don't buy wouldn't have bought anyway.

    While there is no doubt there is some lost revenue, the amount is unknown and almost certainly grossly over stated. If the industries affected would price their products sensibly and improve the quality of the content fewer people would even bother to file share. It's about time these industries grew up and got to grips with all the latest in technology. Stop whining and take advantage of the technology!

  • Comment number 21.

    I think it's pretty clear piracy is an issue, but no where near as big an issue as the industry would have us believe.

    A much bigger issue is our right to access the Internet, which is fast becoming as important as our right to free speech itself. I don't think anyone (least of all industry) should be allowed to take that away. It's far too open to abuse: don't like what someone's saying? Frame them for piracy to shut them up.

    Fortunately, I think this debate has gone on long enough, that the general public is fairly well aware of the issues (which hasn't always been the case). Most of us see through the hyperbole-laden press releases. We have to be vigilent, but it will be hard for the media industry to take away the rights we're now used to.

  • Comment number 22.

    The so-called "generally accepted" criticism from entertainment industry is quite unproven and totally self-serving for the following reasons:
    (1) more than 90% of all revenues of a record go directly to the middleman (read: the music industry) instead of the artists. The industry is adept at preventing bands not sponsored by the industry from getting exposure
    (2) any band that hasn't already achieved star status will be offered only one sort of contract: and one in which the music industry gets the copyrights
    (3) the entertainment industry has, for decades, abused its monopoly position by offering only "package deals" (read "albums" instead of individual songs).
    (4) the music industry (and the consultants retained by them) are committing a gross intellectual dishonesty in claiming that it looses the "list price" on every song that is illegally copied. It does not. People copy songs because they can do so at no cost; they didn't buy them because they didn't feel they were worth the money. If forced to choose beteen paying list price and not having that particular song, there no reason to suppose that they would opt for that particular song, and not another one or no song at all. All of this is well known in micro-economics, and it is possible to model this sort of decision and determine what percentage of sales the music industry really looses. The music industry steadfastily refuses to do this because doing so would undermine their lobbying efforts.
    (5) it purports to force *others* (read internet providers and the Government) to shore up their business model
    (6) the industry has a long history of abusing the monopoly position gained through copy-protection in denying customers the ability to transcribe songs for which they already bought the license (e.g. video tapes) to a new medium
    (7) in pushing for de-facto blanket censorship on file-sharing (disconnect-on-accusation instead of prosecute-on-basis-of-evidence) the music industry endangers something far more valuable than the entire music industry is worth: freedom of speech
    (8) the music industry uniformly tries to disable "fair use" along with illegal copying, simply because it suits them. This causes severe problems for libraries in storing and making once-copyrighted material available. The stuff that the entertainment industry sells (songs, films) is _temporarily_ copyrighted, but ultimately belongs to mankind as a whole. Something the music industry conveniently refuses to acknowledge.

    I don't want to argue that illegal copying is right. It is not.

    But on balance, when an industry that has a long history of dishonesty, anti-competitive behaviour and price gouging now commits additional intellectual fraud by claiming the loss of full list price for every song illegally copied in an effort to secure political support, those efforts should be rejected.

  • Comment number 23.

    Another commenter mentioned the 'you wouldn't steal a car' adverts on purchased and rented DVDs. I always find those rather insulting to my intelligence, because as far as I'm aware the legal definition of theft requires an intent to permenantly deprive the owner of the property in question. Digital piracy doesn't really fit there, since it's possible to generate an infinite number of perfect copies without depriving anybody else of anything (provided the recipients have some storage space to put them on of course). Maybe they think it's theft of the money they would've got for the sales, but it should, I think, be pretty obvious that downloads do not equate to lost sales.

    Some lost sales, sure, I've known a few people who download all their music, even from artists they really like and would probably have bought. I have no sympathy for that position. The thing is, the technology's now here, so the industry has to keep up with it. New models need to be found.

    Let's say I want to watch a new TV series from America, because it's the talk of the internet and it sounds really good. How can I do that? I could get a Sky subscription and wait a couple of months to watch it - by which time I probably know what happens, because the Americans have been talking about it. I could wait until a terrestrial station carries it, but that could be a long time or never. I could wait until it's out on DVD, but buying the DVD set is a problem if I turn out not to like it. File sharing offers the opportunity to watch it within days of its broadcast anywhere in the world.

    Here's the solution for television: globally-available paid-for downloads, without stupidly restrictive DRM systems. Try trusting people a bit. Sure some people will bootleg, but they've been doing that since the invention of recording technology. People are more likely to give you money if they like you.

    Oh and one final comment - bands being forced to tour more because they make less money from CDs? The record labels keep most of that anyway. They're four companies I would be happy to see fall.

  • Comment number 24.

    It is fascinating for a law abiding citizen who does no file sharing to read the very confident views in favour of a practice that is - to the neutral observer - clearly immoral and illegal. If the creative industries, for whom I have little respect of enthusiasm as they are mainly overpaid and always over-rated, have to resort to strong language and stark statistics it is because more reasonable overtures have been returned with a big fat slap in the face. File sharers are not entitled to pirate the property of others just because they don't like the price they would have to pay for a legal copy. If we allow this sentiment to take root we are playing with fire. People aren't smart enough to build fences around such fundamental philosophy. The history of political development shows that respect for property is the bedrock of an organised and civil society. Developing nations crave for the stability this endows. More than anyone they understand the devastating effects of how piracy, corruption and theft. If it is allowed to exist with the acquiesence of the authorities (government, justice system, large companies, parents..) the message this sends is that piracy, corruption and theft is ok and therefore the infection will spread and multiply. The creative industries are not my concern. I think they cause more harm than good and if their 1.8m employees and 8% of GDP is significant it is only because that is wasted resource that could make a far greater contribution to our society and economy by doing something else other than dressing up and singing tunes. However, the defence of property rights and copyright is important and no amount of open source flannel can cover this up. File sharers need to pay. If they don't they need to be cut off. If they still don't they and their suppliers need to answer to the courts. Otherwise why have law.

  • Comment number 25.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 26.

    It's amazing that hurting money of already mega rich corporations can get you into more trouble than carrying out a crime against a human. Still I'm not surprised and never will be even if the death penalty were to be brought back for file sharing.

  • Comment number 27.

    What was it they were telling us 25 years ago. "Home Taping IS Killing Music". And I'm sure we all remember were we all where that fateful day back in '89 when it actually happened. When Phil Collins and Madonna barricaded themselves in against the bailuffs, hoping that their last stand would save music for generations. And now twenty years later? If we'd only listened to the Record industry's warnings. If we'd only realised the threat was true. To think there's now an entire generation of people who've grown up unaware of "music" simply because a people used to tape the Top 40 on a Sunday or the odd Van Halen album....

  • Comment number 28.

    'Generally, it is widely accepted that illegal file-sharing causes great damage and means artists from all kinds of backgrounds are not being paid for the professional work they have done.'

    No it's not. Generally, it is widely accepted that the industry sharks want money, and that without sharing and copying there would be no culture, no language, no maths and humans probably wouldn't even be able to live in caves. The evolution of the human species stopped with the introduction of imaginary property. The only ones who don't seem to realize this are the usual suspects, yes BBC it includes you, lying and omitting information on the news like you did with Oink is called PROPAGANDA, and that's a lot worse than imaginary theft.

  • Comment number 29.

    When's a rights agency not a rights agency?

    A move against file sharing is just not sensible. But there must be a way to establish a poor man's copyright. With 100m views for Susan Boyle or Jerry C on Youtube, the internet community should find a way to reward true talent. Perhaps once you've hit the 1m views or 1m transfers, some reward mechanism kicks in for the talented.

    There probably is a very good business model for file-sharing software makers to pursue.

    I would look to the internet community for a solution, some variation of Spotify for movies is another development. The ISPs are mere conduits and should stick to that. The big labels could help themselves more by using the web to assist emerging talent.

    The traffic volume is interesting. Given the increasing pressure on the peak hour allowances of approx 30kbps per user, we will have to start picking which applications work and do not work during busy periods. Download caps are odd, it's the busy periods that need managing.

  • Comment number 30.


    I don't actually download films. I watch them for free when someone hosts them on the web. And there are a hige array of new sites ready and waiting to host content.

    Does this affect jobs? i doubt it. it affects the amount of money lining the pockets of the man at the top. I doubt very much that the film industry would pay there employees more if all downloading stopped leading to an increase in profits would they?

    Anyway, what about our privacy? Should i be spied on because i might file share?

    Music. Theres something i can't get enough of. And i openly admit to taking it for free. But you know why? because its unavailable in pretty much any shop in this country. No one stocks proper 60s reggae apart from a "best of" album, or 80s skinhead music because no one wants where should i go and get my music? And is if any of those bands care if they released it on independant diy labels.

    I notice pirate-bay still works.

    Might visit it now....

  • Comment number 31.

    You may stop the current crop of P2P software, just like the old ones are now not so common (like Napster) but all that will happen is that the people outside of their jurisdiction (Russians mostly) will write new P2P clients and this time they will encrypt the data being shared and use a common port (80 maybe) so that ISPs wont be able to detect that anything illegal is going on.
    I wise man would realise that you will never stop piracy and that all you can do is to make it difficult to do so that the casual pirate won't bother... Legislating against wont stop it and neither will forcing ISPs to spy on their customers. I think the industry as a whole should go and have a word with Microsoft and apple about how they are dealing with it.
    Just to clear something up which really annoys me. The industry would have you believe that copying films, music, etc. is theft. It isnt theft at all, its copyright infringement and the two are completely different.

  • Comment number 32.

    If they reduced their prices to make it affordable to browse before buying, there will be more exposure to a larger potential consumer market. I want to listen to music before I decide to buy it. They are also strangling our culture, separating those that take the 'risk' of file sharing, or have the money to buy on spec from the likes of me. I have no sympathy for them at all. I want access to culture that isn't dependent on my disposable income or web knowledge.

  • Comment number 33.

    Stop beating around the bush. The figures quoted are dishonest. Why should the country enact legislation based on lies told by a special interest group to support it's own interests? If there really is an impact (I imagine there is), let those who understand it tell us the truth, so that we can decide whether we should support changes in the law.

    I'm reminded of the Countryside Alliance who, in their campaign against the hunting ban, claimed that hundreds of thousands of jobs would be lost (if I remember correctly, the most-quoted figure was 300,000). That turned out to be as much of an exaggeration as this is.

  • Comment number 34.

    "sharers are not entitled to pirate the property of others just because they don't like the price they would have to pay for a legal copy."
    For me, its not the price that is the issue, its the availability and restrictions on use. We now live in a global marketplace - I don't want to wait a couple of months at best to see a US show, I want to see it as soon as it is released - and you know, I'd pay for it if they let me, but they don't.
    I don't own an iPod, I own a couple of generic MP3 players, and 2 CD players (home and car) and a phone that I can put music on. I haven't used iTunes because they prevent me from using the music on all of these devices - they severely restrict my use. I have started using Amazon's download service as they have no such restrictions - and its reasonably priced.
    The owners and distributors need to get their models to meet modern needs - we want it as soon as its available, at a reasonable cost, and useable. Not when they feel like it, at the same cost as a physical copy (despite the fact there is virtually no production or distribution costs, never mind no physical store, fewer staff etc), and in a format that means it can only be watched once, or listened to on one device.

  • Comment number 35.

    I think if truth be told, they would lose even more money if p2p didn't exist. It gives people a chance to watch an often lower quality version of a film, if they like it they'll go and buy it and have a good quality version, with extras and features etc, though the question is are the products this combined industry try to sell us worth what they charge? No of course not, a dvd and packaging cost pence to produce.

    Isn't it time they stopped paying actors millions of pounds to do a few months work? If they did then they could lower dvd costs and more people might buy them - while they charge over the top prices for films that are often dire the industry will continue to suffer from piracy.

    It's greed that leads to things like p2p - the digital users revolt against extortionate pricing structures!

    And considering if you wait 6 months or so after the release of a dvd most shops sell it for a few quid anyway...

  • Comment number 36.

    I download movies as I like the convenience of storing them on my network and watching them via a network media player on my lounge TV.

    If movies were made available to download 'legally', then I'd use such a service, but at the present time, there is no way straightforward way to do so, especially older films.

    If I download a film legally, I want to be able to play it on my lounge TV due to DRM or some other such restriction, instead I'm confined to a 17" laptop screen.

    Instead of belly aching about illegal downloads, why don't those who wish to complain organise a viable alternative?

    I don't want to rent DVD's (I'll never buy one!) I want to watch a film on demand, on the spur of the moment.

    I'm getting sick to death of the campaigners restricting what I can and can't do, i.e. you must rent a hard copy DVD if you want to watch our films.

    The world has gone digital, it's about time the film studios did!

  • Comment number 37.

    "Apparently Fox, the studio behind the film, believe the takings would have topped $100m in North America had it not been for the leak."

    Just because you believe doesnt make it so.

  • Comment number 38.

    I work as a researcher in this field and it is a very interesting subject area because, as others have pointed out, illegal file-sharing does not directly translate into lost sales. Anyone who suggests otherwise is ignoring the facts. A number of studies have found that the most enthusiastic file-sharers are also the ones that buy the most physical copies. Although it is obviously not always the case, many people try a wide range of music/films, etc and will pay to own the ones they like best. Fans tend to like the added extras that come with a physical copy and there is still the thrill of ownership.

    On a personal level, I would not download films or music (mainly because I can't be bothered), but would happily copy them from friends. I would suggest that this has been happening for years and the entertainment industry is managing to survive. I can't afford to buy a lot of films/music but will do so if it is something I really enjoy and many times I have only found this out through copying.

    The only P2P downloading we do is episodes of Lost as soon as they have aired in America. My husband is a huge Lost fan, who then also watches it on Sky two days later and buys the DVDs. Some may find this a little excessive (!) but who has lost out as a result of his downloading behaviour?

  • Comment number 39.

    How much do bands get for each copy of a CD album that is sold? I read somewhere that it is only about £1. And yet the CD sells for between £7 and £12. If you could download legitimate high quality (FLAC or some other lossless codec) copies of the CD from each Band's website for £1 and you knew that the money would go directly to the band (ok maybe sell for £1.50 so the record companies get something for their production work) I believe that most people would download the legitimate copies as they would be paying the creative artists rather than the greedy record company monopolies.

  • Comment number 40.

    Wasn't it the media industry that claimed the VHS would kill them?, it didn't. Didn't they also claim that the cassette recorder would kill them? it didn't and neither will file sharing. This is just another scare story (preached like gospel by all the news agencies including the BBC) to try and keep their cartels in place so they can continue to fleece the consumer.

  • Comment number 41.

    Every industry goes through times of change, just like the car industry is today. It is unfortunate that the music/movie/TV industries cannot seem to fully grasp that their industry is changing and they need to change with the times. People want their media in different and more accessible ways.

    I think it is also high time the middle man in the music industry was cut out and the real artists got their rightful percentage. There is not much need for them now or the dictatorship that is used for their royalty collecting body.

    TV media needs to change. I can say I have pirated TV shows (including BBC's) simply because they are either not shown in my country, I am subjected to wait for lengthy periods or the TV channel shows them and then abrumptly stops. If I were allowed to stream these episodes or download them legally and play them how I wanted to I would be quite happy to pay for it.

    Fortunately some TV stations do allow buying then downloading of TV shows or even streaming but unfortunately - as usual - you can only do so if you live in certain countries.

    On an upside to pirating certain TV shows I have ended up buying their respective DVD box sets and series' which I never would have had I not pirated them. So technically in this case piracy did make a sale.

  • Comment number 42.

    Let's imagine that this media proposal receives the go-ahead:

    What's the point then of:

    - Having ISP investing in download speed and amount of data available for customers

    - Having companies selling big hard drives

    - Having companies selling recordable Cds and DVDs

    - Paying for 8mb or 10mb download speed if it only to check web pages

    The problem here is these companies are and have been rip of their own clients!

    I sometimes use the p2p system, but that did not stopped me from buying the records I like or going to theatres and seing the films I want.
    The piracy is used sometimes as a trial to check on the quality of films or music. If one really likes something will buy it.
    For instance: I enjoyed the BBC TV series Amazon and Coast. I watched on TV and then I bought it.

    But these media companies freezed in time. They weren't able to anticipate how important and crucial the internet was. Why would I pay 15 pounds for a dvd movie to watch it only once?
    Why not having that content available for 3 pounds on their websites?

    Remember Napster? They killed Napster, but a dozen of new and better 'Napsters' born just after that.

    That's what will happen now. As simple as that.

  • Comment number 43.

    Industries should reduce their prices to combat this illigal file sharing problem. If they don't reduce the prices they will have a never ending battle on their hands. They make enough money as it is because they are greedy! GREED GREED GREED! This world needs to shake it's head and come down to reality! People who download / upload do it for a reason. I Say prices are far too high in the music/movie industry REDUCE PRICES!!!!!.

  • Comment number 44.

    The biggest eye opener I got was travelling to other countries, where I saw the true price of CD's etc.

    In Argentina, a brand new legal album on CD, same artist, same packaging same thing from a store similar to HMV will cost you the equivalent of £2.50 - 3.50. Over here, you'll pay more than that to download it, in lesser quality and without anything physical for your hard earned cash.

    So, argue that one. Downloaded albums should cost £1-2. I'd buy them in volume for that price, and as any basic businessman will tell you, it's better to sell 5 million at £1 per pop than 100,000 at £10 per pop, especially when the cost of digital distribution is exceptionally small.

    But they won't see sense on that one as that would let the cat out of the bag.

  • Comment number 45.

    I am very much against P2P because it is theft, and people who say they are trying before buying should get Sky+, V+, lovefilm or a blockbuster membership. If youre really intent on not spending any money, why not get a 0% credit card and really contribute to the 'Economic Downturn'
    If companies are serious about cutting it down, why not lock up all file sharers. They know they're breaking the law!

    But at the same time charging close to £10 to see a film at the cinema is daylight robbery and i can see why people are tempted.

    So my idea: half cinema, DVD and Blu-ray prices and arrest anyone who is still too tight to appreciate the effort thats gone in. As far as music is concerned, thats still pretty cheap and as people say, if bands are touring more everyone wins

  • Comment number 46.

    How much money is lost in lost sales due to "illegal" P2P activity?

    How much money is lost in lost sales of DVDs to sales of pirated copies of CDs and DVDs at markets and car boot sales?

    How much money from "illegal" P2P activity ends up in the bank accounts of criminals and organised crime?

    How much money from the sale of pirated copies of CDs and DVDs at markets and car boot sales? ends up in the bank accounts of criminals and organised crime?

    How often are these available before release (certainly in the UK)?

    How many of those leaks are due to the actions of the studios by trying to cut costs and maximise profits by doing rolling releases and regional lock downs?

    How many of those leaks are from insiders in the industry paid large amounts by criminals (when it comes to pirated copies being sold)

    I think maybe the industry woke up and realised that they are going after the wrong targets when it comes to "pirating". Cutting people off the internet is not going to make them go out and buy the genuine article, they'll go down the market and buy a copy from a dodgy dealer and that will simply put that money straight into the pockets or organised crime.

    Also every report on "pirated" goods, be they CDs, DVDs or software always do a 1 to 1 equation, they always argue that 1 pirated copy = 1 lost legitimate sale at full price. This of course is rubbish, a lot of people are "pirating" material that they would probably never buy because they could never afford it.

  • Comment number 47.

    To those arguing that downloading causes no harm: what would happen if everyone did it - why would anyone then make and distribute music or films ? Or do you just expect other people to pay the costs of producing music and films while you continue passing copies around your friends without paying a penny ?

    Let's see how a file-sharer might justify travelling by train without a ticket, using the same arguments as used above to justify not paying for media:

    1) The train is going anyway, so it doesn't cost the train operator any extra if I dodge the fare. (comment #5 above)

    2) Train tickets are too expensive so it's OK for people to avoid paying.(#10,20,32,34)

    3) The driver only gets a fraction of the fare so I'm not harming him directly (#22,39)

    4) If I dodge the fare on enough trains I'll get so used to travelling by rail that I'll end up spending more money on fares in future (41)

    5) Most of the train journeys I take are rubbish anyway, I should only have to pay for the ones I enjoy (#8)

    6) Travelling without a ticket isn't the same as theft, so it's OK (#17)

    7) If I had to pay the fare I wouldn't travel, so the train company hasn't really lost any money. (#11,13)

    8) Train companies have been telling us for years that fare dodging is costing them money, and yet the trains still run ! What a bunch of scaremongers ! (#40)

    9)Train companies are Bad, Bad, People who make Profits ... (#3,4,5,26 and lots of others ... )

    10) It's impossible for anyone to stop people from fare dodging because people can always find a way round it, therefore it's OK for me to do it (#31)

    11) Travel is part of the cultural inheritance of humanity and should not be restricted by ability to pay for it (#28)

  • Comment number 48.

    Depends on the content.

    Most downloaded content are taken by people who would not pay for it anyway, so no lost money.

    Films are downloaded by those who may have seen it in the cinema o on DVD so a lost sale.

    Music is different, because it stands up to repeated use much better, a lot of people download music illegally and then also buy it later in a legal form if they find it good.

    I download lots of music, buy some, delete the rest, exactly the same as going to a store and asking to listen to hundreds of CDs, except I do it in the comfiort of my own home and dont annoy the store clerks.

    I download TV series, mostly ones that I have already paid to watch via Sky/BBC/ITV but would prefer to watch it on my schedule. Is downloading a Heroes episode 2 weeks before it airs on the beeb really stealing?

  • Comment number 49.

    45. At 11:35am on 12 May 2009, TimmyNorfolk

    What a bizarre comment.

    1) Anyone prudent will get a 0% credit card and pay it off in full once they start charging interest. How does that contribute to the downturn?? I take it from your post you like to be stung with massive fees and bolstering the balance sheets of failed insitutions? Very strange.

    2) I utterly agree with your point and have all the above (Sky+, lovefilm, blockbuster). They all offer excellent value. However, physical media and downloaded media do not at all. See my post 44 - in *this* country we are hugely overcharged for buying music to keep in any format.

  • Comment number 50.

    TimmyNorfolk. You said "I am very much against P2P because it is theft" which is wrong in the context of this blog. Sharing copyrighted files is copyright infringement NOT THEFT.
    You also say "why not lock up all file sharers" - I download legal versions of the Linux operating system, amongst other GNU licensed software, using P2P software and the game World of Warcraft uses P2P software to provide software updates... Should I be locked up for that?
    On another note, I bought a copy of Twighlight from HMV on the day of it's release and when I played it I find that it has 10 minutes of trailers at the beginning, which can't be skipped or even fast forwarded through. I can understand trailers on rental DVDs, but not those sold retail. With stunts like that, they are not going to make any friends amongst the public.
    I have since ripped and rebuilt the movie onto blank DVD without the trailers because I do not want to have to waste 10 minutes before I can press play on a movie. In theory, I am legally entitled to make a copy of the movie for my own use, but I bet the industry would say I'm a thief.

  • Comment number 51.

    I'm becoming convinced that illegal file sharing is having a bad effect on creativity in music and movies. I think that the profit squeeze on the big companies are leading them to have less resources available to take risks creatively. It's easier to sign the band /make the movie that fits the tried and tested formula of what will sell than it is to take a risk and not know what will happen. I'd also guess that it's killing the independant companies. Hence we end up with candy-pop throw-away rubbish instead of a wide variety of music.

    My second problem with illegal file sharing is that it seems to lead to a lower appreciation of music. I have a friend who downloads tons of music but never takes the time to appreciate what he listens to. We are like kids at a party stuffing ourselves with sweets without actually tasting what we eat.

  • Comment number 52.

    I agree with Brian (post #50)

    I too am sick and tired of buying DVDs and then having to sit through 10 minutes of trailers which can't be skipped because they are flagged as being like the copyright notices

    If I've PAID £15-20 for a DVD then why should I have to be FORCED to watch the trailers. Its my time which the studios are basically stealing from me, but apparently its OK to steal my time because its not productive. Actually I usually do something constructive like go and open a bottle of wine or go to the toilet.

    I'm also very annoyed by those stupid "Piracy is a crime" trailers which are forced down my throat too. Do they really think that's going to stop anyone from ripping a copy?

    So the studios assume I'm a criminal and that its OK to steal my time from me to force trailers and other rubbish down my throat. Maybe its about time they started showing their customers some actual respect? Or is that too much to ask?

  • Comment number 53.

    The content industry is clearly telling lies to protect its distribution model. They are not loosing nearly as much as they would like us to believe through piracy. In fact they may well be making money through it! A number of studies have shown that the most prolific pirates are the biggest spenders too, but they hide that fact. I personally have bought albums after trying the pirated version and then also bought subsequent albums by the same artists. The industry is making plenty of money and I can't remember a time when there were as many great bands as there are currently. If the industry is struggling then why are we not seeing a reduction of bands? Also an industry that charges £30 for a bluray version of WALL E deserves to go out of business. I can't believe that Bluray discs cost so much more to produce than dvds that they need to charge twice the price for them. Unfortunatley the content companies are realising that no one needs them anymore. Music artists can produce, promote and distribute music from their bedrooms and it is getting easier for film makers to do the same. They are scared and fighting for their future survival, not from the threat of piracy but from the freedom of the internet. The more restrictions they can put in place the more control they can retain and the more artists and consumers they can rip off in the future. After all we have laws to deal with theft so why do we need special ones for the music and film industries?

  • Comment number 54.

    Lots of assumptions are made by the creative industries - primarily that p2p music & films would be bought by them instead - this is intellectually bankrupt - they are lured by the cost - ie zero.

    Secondly it assumes that it would be possible for the ISPs to work out who was p2ping. This would be nigh on impossible - encryption is common place, and it wouldn't take long for Bit Torrent over SSL to pop up.

    Thirdly, it is the same attitude that lots of newspapers have had with the web - they didn't see it coming, and as technology gave the music industry the ability to record songs on a CD for a massive profit, so it can take away with filesharing and the internet. Digital copying is easy - DRM is impossible, and anyone who thinks otherwise needs to read up on how it works - it has to be decrypted on the user's computer - so a decrypted version can be sent to the speakers. Intercepting this would NOT be difficult - let alone the fact that the decryption key has to be stored as well.

    Copyright infringement, as it is exists on the statute books today, is a law which is not abided by. Ripped a CD? You've broken copyright. Lent it to a friend who has copied it? Yep, you're guilty too.

    DRM is not the answer - there is no answer. Case in point is the video game Spore with it's 'secure' DRM solution. Garnered very negative reviews on Amazon, had very bad PR, and the DRM was cracked ON LAUNCH DAY! The only people it inconvienced was the legitimate users.

    It is time for the people of this country to stand up to the creative industry and say, "You didn't see this coming, so you reap the consequences."

    Piracy is NOT theft! If I took the DVD from a store, that would be theft, if I went in with a device to copy it, and left the DVD there, the store would still have the DVD. Piracy is NOT theft!

  • Comment number 55.

    If the ISPs are going to be asked to police this, I would like to know, on a technical level, how they are going to prove that I initiated the download and that my computer wasn't being controlled by a so-called 'botnet' from somewhere in eastern europe.

    It is almost impossible to police, and going after teenagers downloading the odd movie in their bedrooms is counter productive because of all of the accusations of penny-pinching that going after small targets for large fees will bring.

    I also echo the statements of many people that seem to be in-the-know that P2P file sharing is NOT illegal, indeed, World of Warchraft uses file sharing for it's built in downloader and additionally provides the url for its updates to be downloaded in .torrent format.

    Would the people who don't understand the subject matter kindly refrain from demonising the rest of us that do?

  • Comment number 56.

    I'd have a lot more sympathy with the entertainment industry if they rethought their act a bit and realised that the internet age is here to stay.

    Let me give you a little example. I watch my TV and movies through a PC. This PC runs a Linux operating system. According to Sony (I have emailed them to check this) it would be illegal for me to watch Blu-Ray movies on my PC, as it would violate the copyright agreement of Blu-Ray disks. So I fitted the PC with an old-fashioned DVD drive instead.

    I like watching movies, and have enough spare cash to buy a few disks. If copyright on Blu-Ray disks worked differently, I would doubtless be spending lots of money now building up a Blu-Ray collection. But since Sony don't want me to do that, I'm just watching my old DVDs instead and spending far less money. If I were so inclined, I might think that if I'm going to be breaking the law anyway by watching Blu-Ray movies, I might as well download the illegally rather than pay for them, although I haven't done that.

    Now remind me, why do the entertainment industry think they are not making enough money?

  • Comment number 57.

    45. At 11:35am on 12 May 2009, TimmyNorfolk wrote:

    I am very much against P2P because it is theft, and people who say they are trying before buying should get Sky+, V+, lovefilm or a blockbuster membership.

    Lets not forget the media industry wanted those to be illegal as well claiming it would destroy their industry :x

  • Comment number 58.

    "Without Question"?
    "Generally, it is widely accepted"

    Are you a journalist or just a feed reader? To be honest I wonder sometimes if reporters are any more informed than I am.

    C'mon where is your journalistic spark? Where do they _exactly_ get the figures from? Where is the research that proves that file sharing does damage?

    There is an argument in the games industry (that Stardock use for example) that states that a pirated game is not a lost sale because that kind of person wouldn't have bought the game anyway.

    It's a compelling theory that piracy damages creative industries and it would seem to make sense but I don't think it is "without question" because there is no research that categorically proves this. Certainly in some scenarios file sharing might lead to more sales (due to try before you buy and exposure). The science is in finding out what these ratios truly are.

    The labels can blame their reduced profits on filesharing but how do we know what part of it is due to piracy and what part is down to ineffective management and general incompetance? What else might they be burying in these figures?

  • Comment number 59.

    #51 - Like yourself I cannot abide retail dvds that are laden with unskippable adverts.

    I have a media server that I use to stream my movie collection to my tv through my xbox so the first thing I do is rip the main movie element of the dvds I buy to a DivX video on my server.

    In theory ripping my dvds to my media server to watch them is completely acceptable under fair use provisions as the copies are for personal use only and I still have the original dvd in my possession.

    Unfortunately as I am forced to circumvent the DVD encryption in order to do this the movie industry have found a neat loophole to make fair use illegal. While creating the personal copy should count as fair use and be allowed, circumventing the dvd encryption is deemed illegal by a whole other set of laws.

  • Comment number 60.

    Camholder, I wouldn't tarnish everyone with the same brush. The majority of people would like to obtain their content legally, easily, at respectable prices and DRM free.

    Unfortunately industry doesn't want to do that. The middle men continue to want to strictly monopolise and control what they have been doing for years. No one is saying the content creators shouldn't be paid. The industry just needs to change and adapt to the market just like any other industry.

    Maybe one of the reasons for poor music sales is simply people don't hold the same value in it like they used to do since there are now others forms of competing entertainment.

  • Comment number 61.

    I am happy to pay £10 (it is £7.95 at our local) to go to the cinema - I enjoy the experience, even if the volume is too loud, and it is a cheaper evening out for the family then going to a restaurant.

    I am not happy to pay £20 for a DVD (even if it is Blue-Ray) to watch at home. The experience is not as good and lets be honest I would only watch it a few times.

    I would love to download legally - but over the years the entertainment industry has ripped me off - DVDs that were area coded, so I could not watch at home a DVD I bought in USA on holiday, DRM restrictions that meant I was not allowed to rip an album that I have bought on to a spare CD for playing in the car, rootkits that messed up my computer, low quality formats and my current pet favourite the BBC iplayer only allows me a period of time to watch what I have downloaded.

    I am a legitimate consumer who is being conned by the entertainment industry. At least for music there is some sense arriving but for movies it is the same useless message.

    As for UKFC see #1, I work in the film industry and you have 100% right

  • Comment number 62.

    Downloading movies and burning them to DVD to watch on the TV takes much more effort than picking up the latest movies at the local car boot sale or in the pub. Old fashioned DVD piracy is still a more accessible threat than p2p.

    CD and DVD sales were bound to deteriorate once people had replaced their record and tape collections. The new physical formats, DVD audio and Blu-Ray, aren't compelling enough for people to warrant buying the same old content again.

  • Comment number 63.

    "2) Train tickets are too expensive so it's OK for people to avoid paying.(#10,20,32,34)"

    I think you misrepresent my views... As I said in #34, I now use Amazon's mp3 download service as it meets much of my criteria - no DRM, reasonable price - about the same as a physical DVD less 35% (which is about what distribution and production costs). Now if only they had the same breadth of music available as on physical CD.

    And this still doesn't solve the issue of me avoiding Scrubs season 8 spoilers for the next 2 years until some UK satellite network deems to pick it up, or my American friends wondering why I haven't yet seen such-and-such a film because our release schedule is different, or the music that never gets released in the UK on digital format and is only available as an import CD at £20 or more...

    Whilst there are a number of people who will always break the rules because they can't or won't pay for something (and you could argue that these people were never going to buy the CD / DVD anyway?) there are a lot of people who use P2P or other methods because the current system is out-of-date and no longer relevant to the way people consume media.

    Whilst this in no way excuses copyright infringement, it does point to a clear way in which the industry could regain some ground without threatening its customers.

    At the moment ,its kind of like the train company preventing the coach company from transporting people without paying them a fee, and then complaining when people walk...

  • Comment number 64.


    Lets use your train analogy in a different way.

    Would it be ok with you if the Music and film companies made the Train company search every one of its passengers while traveling in order to check that they do not have any stolen cds on their person or are carrying a cd/dvd that they have borrowed from a friend or even check their ipods to see if they have ripped any tunes on to it from cds that they have bought?

    Not that comparing file sharing to a physical train journey is ideal. After all the train company could have fitted more passengers on the train if you were not taking up an unpaid seat. They also have to pay for the extra fuel to carry you and the wear and tear on the train caused by your carriage. Pirated digital files are neither stolen from anyone as no one is missing their copy and the distribution of these files causes no loss to the content industry. Also going after the ticketless passengers is like going after the home pirates when the real damage is being done by the ticket counterfitting operations akin to the mass production pirates. Go to Corfu or any other sunny destination and there are people selling pirated dvds and music openly on the beach! Go to china, iran, india etc and it is practically impossible to buy legal music as every copy on sale in stores is counterfit. Also with films, most copies originate from the industry itself (preview copies, insider leaks etc) so they really should get their house in order before going after everyone else. Also the other flaw in the train analogy is that people who ticket jump were clearly likely to have took the journey anyway where with music and film the pirates are likely to have never bought it even if they had not got the pirate version.

    Another thing. I was stuffed by the game industry, I bought far cry on the day of release. I then took it home in excitement installed it on my pc and then found that it would not load! I scratched my head and did some searching and found that it was due to me having a DVD recorder. The software had detected that I had the potential ability if I so wished to possibly copy the game if I wanted to and therfore prevented me from playing it! I wrote an email to ubisoft for help and got no reply so I took things into my own hands. I found a no-disc patch and installed it, I could now play the game but had supported the pirating effort in doing so. Now the really stupid thing is that I could have got the pirate version for free that very morning and without having to go out my house to the shop and I could have played the game with no restriction. However stupidly I payed for a crippled version instead and I could not take it back as it was a pc game and I could not get any help from the publisher so that was the very last PC game I ever bought. Should I have not cracked the game and just accepted that it was useless? Then there are the ridiculous dvds I buy that come with unskippable ads! and a helpful intro that tells me that I should not buy pirate discs, even though I have just bought the thing legally! Or I could get a pirate version that just plays the film and does away with the ads. How about music, up until recently I had the choice of purchasing low quality mp3s from itunes for more than they cost on an cd or I could get high quality versions (even flac) for free from the pirate channels. Thankfully they are relaxing the drm but they are still generally low quality compared to the cd versions. What am I supposed to do if I want to stream them on a sonos player? I can't rip the cd as that is also illegal.....

  • Comment number 65.

    Hmm, did we not have this debate a few days ago?!

    The music and movie industry are ASSUMING that each copy that is made denies them of a sale. This is wrong, I've downloaded music to "hear before I buy" and deleted it as it's just manufactured, off the production line ****.

    Quality > Quantity please.

    We could have this discussion again and again and again but the point is the record company/movie people are making up tales of fear about how it will kill the industry and how they're loosing so much money due to piracy. when instead, they should be looking at WHY people are not spending as much as they used to on music/dvds.

    is it because their products are rubbish?
    no, it couldn't be that ... could it?

  • Comment number 66.

    It doesnt really matter what they do, I'd say over half the world illegally download files, for every measure the goverment puts up, 2 new anti-measures will be created.

    There are so many ways to be annonymous online, at the moment most people are unaware of this as there is no need for it, but once the need arises people will learn how to adapt.

    At the moment we are going through a big financial crisis, tons of important companies are collapsing, car manufacturers, banks, airliners, etc... but I dont think I have heard of ANY record companies or film studios going bankrupt, so it cant be hitting them that bad.

  • Comment number 67.

    Can we please just get something straight here - file-sharing does not support prostitution, terrosrism, criminal syndicates or any such like?

    I mena really - how can it? If I'm downloading somethign for free where are the millions coming from to buy Osama's missiles? Eh?
    File-sharing is not buying a counterfeit dvd off the street.

    Just another piece of propoganda that the entertainment industry has fed and, by repeating it ad nauseum has somehow become a home truth.

    Come on people. Look, think, stay alive.

  • Comment number 68.

    At 1:11pm on 12 May 2009, MrMickS wrote:

    Dude, try buying an svideo out cable and then just hook up your pc/laptop to the computer and watch it on AV...

  • Comment number 69.

    Okay I'm not a techy geek I'm an economist geek.

    Now the number one rule of business if make your customer pay as much as he/she is prepared to pay.
    That is why, for years now, customers in the UK have paid more than their counter-parts in other parts of the world for exactly the same product. Because they were able and willing to pay more.
    End result is everybody gets their product and the record label/film studio maximises their profit.

    All that is happening now is that the internet has taken away those boundaries and UK customers have figured this out.
    The record labels/film studios have shareholders who expect certain returns and so have not as yet lowered the UK/Europe prices to that of other countries and UK/European consumers have revolted.
    If there was no incentive and everybody was happy there would've been no need for sites such as Piratebay and they would never have been invented or publicised.

    Now that the entertainment industry has reacted in the manner they have has hardened attitudes as has the fact that they still have not yet brought down prices. They still figure UK consumers are happy to pay more than their Argentinian/South African/Indian consumers for the same product even though we now live in a borderless online society.

    The ball is quite simply in their court and they are playing a busted flush.

  • Comment number 70.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 71.

    Interesting how this increased pressure comes shortly after studies are published showing that file sharers are actually more likely to purchase content (article at
    The media industry as a whole needs to get its act together and work out where its best interests lie. When I'm faced with a choice between waiting up to ten months for a new DVD or game to get a UK release or importing it from the US for retail price plus prohibitive shipping and import charges (let alone the cost of a system that will play it), of course I'm going to download it. Region-locked content and delayed releases are completely outdated and actively promote piracy.

  • Comment number 72.

    It's not about piracy or money. it's all about control. When media is available direct from the creator to the end user, the media company has no control. What value does a media company add to a music album. In the past they looked after distribution and marketing, production of the CD or LP and it's packaging. In a digital age with P2P and the internet, these are not as important.
    One of the factors which drives digital madia is the ease of use.
    Smuggling used to be a major industry in the UK and it was widely accepted while still a crime. High rates of duty encouraged this. Enforcement did not solve the problem, however, a more reasonable approach to excise duty proved much more successful. Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned from this.

  • Comment number 73.

    psp is wrong, pure and simple... the screen is too small

  • Comment number 74.

    "the creative industries have gone to great lengths to spell out the damage done by file-sharing copyright content without permission."

    On the other hand, the creative industries have gone to great lengths to persuade (read "bribe") our politicos to pass laws to deny us our rights of fair use and to extend copyright well beyond what was originally proposed so that works that should have fallen into the public domain years ago are jealously hoarded by an elite few and milked for whatever last few pennies can be squeezed out of them.

    Copyright is not a fundamental right - it is an agreement between us and the artist/creator. Quite honestly, if the creators can't keep fairly to their side of the bargain why do they expect us to stick to it?

  • Comment number 75.


    You analogy is all wrong and can not be used as a comparison to file sharing. A place on a train journey is a physical thing - there is a finite number of seats available. Maybe if trains had an infinite number of seats you could make the comparison.

    In answer to your question, "what would happen if everyone did it [piracy]?". I guess that "big media" companies would fold and there would be a mini dark age for film, tv, and music.

    However, any void would quickly be filled by entrepreneurial artists connecting to the consumer, either directly or via ad hoc communities on the internet.

    Like I alluded to in comment #17, industries die all the time. People will lose jobs. It has happened before and will happen again.

    Embrace the new world order.

  • Comment number 76.

    is encerspay an anagram of ray spencer?

  • Comment number 77. anyone remember the great hue and cry from the industry when cassette tapes were launched? Or those that predicted the demise of the movie theater when VHS became popular.... and so it begins again.

  • Comment number 78.


    Nope, just pure pig-Latin for Spencer.

  • Comment number 79.

    I own a small digital media company that produces training for software. We used to distribute on DVD, and these days we also deliver via downloads. We have experienced a large drop in sales, during the same period during which broadband has gone from 1mbit to 20mbit plus.

    Put quite simply, when we started up (back in 2004), it just was not practical to download a 4.7GB DVDs worth of data. Now that same DVD can be downloaded in 1 hour or so. Its really shreded our sales, and to be honest I'm thinking of closing the business.

    Piracy and file sharing DOES have an impact, and its easy to fob off the complaints of apparently very profitable film and TV studios. The effect there is harder to see, but it is having an effect.

    British ISPs have stated that people are pirating media because they cannot buy it online. Thats just not the case. The media i.e.movies, games etc, are available in shops (and have been for some time....).

    Just because someone wants the conveience of buying something online, and they cannot get it, does not mean that they have the right to steal what they desire. If you want something, buy it. Anything else is theft.

  • Comment number 80.

    Mr. Waters, seriously - nice start, but you're still giving Sony/Warners/EMI an _incredible_ free ride here. The question here isn't 'what do the official made-up figures say?', or even 'have they blatantly slanted them to make piracy seem thousands of times worse than it really is?' Of course they have, but they've been doing that consistently for years. Worth mention but hardly important.

    A few _real_ questions worth asking to start with: 'Where do the industry get those figures? How do they know? (Hint: they don't) If piracy is so terrible, how come book sales go _up_ for authors who give their stuff away free online? (and the same for musicians etc...)'

    A couple of randomly selected examples from your piece...

    "Specifically, the report says that almost 10,000 new jobs would be created if peer-to-peer piracy was 100% eliminated."

    Yes, it does. But it doesn't provide the slightest evidence for this figure, or indeed any discussion of how many music sales might be _lost_ if piracy was eliminated. (If eliminating piracy acts to encourage legal content sales... then why did music sales _plummet_ the instant Napster was shut down? And fall again every time a pirate service was shut down since then?)

    But my favourite is this gem:

    "Without question, piracy threatens jobs..."

    Why is it without question? The industry's never provided the slightest evidence. No research has ever been done... indeed, the big distributors have repeatedly _refused_ to do any research into the real effects of piracy, despite many offers to help from organisations with a real interest in finding out actual facts.
    Senior execs in the music idustry have even admitted openly that they won't do the research because they're afraid they'll find out their opponents are right.

    The only actual independent research I'm aware of was by the LSE, and it concluded, basically, that piracy _improves_ sales and copyright term needs to be _drastically_ reduced, for the good of the economy.
    Needless to say, the big distributors (and our government, which does pretty much whatever Sony tells it to on this) do not quote the LSE on this.

    If I were going to guess, I would guess that piracy badly hurts sales for the most popular 0.5% of bands and movies, slightly hurts sales for the top 1%, and massively improves sales for everyone else. But that would be a guess. It's not a fact, because like all the 'official industry figures', I _made it up off the top of my head_. Which is exactly where all the piracy figures in the report come from. (The ones on the size of the industry, of course, are reasonably good.)

    Stop giving the media companies their claims 'without question'. With the economy in its current shape we need good independent research into the real effects of piracy... not conducted by the industry that's making use of piracy hysteria to change the laws to its taste!

  • Comment number 81.

    There is no point in these discussions, they are filled with kids trying to justify taking other people's hard work for free. Its laughable to see the mental and ethical gymnastics people go through in order to explain why they took a movie that cost 5 million to make for free, and that somehow movies will still get made by magic invisible pixies with no bills to pay, so you aren't harming anyone.
    Its not 'file-sharing' its theft, and those guilty of it should be put in a cell until they understand right from wrong.

  • Comment number 82.

    In response to jmonkey2008: Good point. In my earlier rant, I was talking about the music and film industry's increasing anti-consumer anti-artist stance; your position is very different.

    Detailed technical software and books are in a rough position, as jmonkey says. The problem there is often entire _companies_ willing to use pirate software, which takes a lot of time to develop; the economics are very different from the music industry, where traditionally the artists have done most of the work while the publishers took all the profits.

    But the big, clumsy, intrusive laws that the big media companies are pushing here won't do a damn thing to help jmonkey2008, or anyone else.
    (They won't even help the companies pushing the report; the ultimate tragedy here is that perfectly viable businesses are wasting their efforts on yelling at the public and messing up the economy for the rest of us, when they could be making money by _actually adapting to the new
    market conditions_. On the rare occasions they've done so it's worked _very_ well.)

  • Comment number 83.


    Let's see how a file-sharer might justify travelling by train without a ticket, using the same arguments as used above to justify not paying for media:

    First point to make about your argument is that it isnt directly comparable. Train services have a limited capacity. You are paying to use this capacity at the expense of someone else who hasnt paid. If you then take a seat without paying you are reducing capacity at the expense of other uses and the train operators with only immediate benefit to yourself.

    File sharing does not work in this way as file shares make a perfect copy of the original data without depriving anyone else who currently has the data (whether by legal or illegal means). A more accurate comparison would be to pose the question, does dodging a fare on a train with infinite capacity have an adverse affect on the service and other users? When you get to this point the strength of your analogy disappears.

    To directly address your specific points comparing the argument for file sharing against train fare dodging:

    1) The train is going anyway, so it doesn't cost the train operator any extra if I dodge the fare. (comment #5 above)

    2) Train tickets are too expensive so it's OK for people to avoid paying.(#10,20,32,34)

    Both comparisons fail on the ground of trains capacity. Using a train with or without paying stops someone else having that journey. Perfectly copying data does not stop anyone else from having that data.

    3) The driver only gets a fraction of the fare so I'm not harming him directly (#22,39)

    I assume you are trying to drawn a comparison between the Driver and the Content Creator here. This is fallacious. The driver works on a standard work for hire model. Content creators dont, they work on a very flawed system of royalties. The driver would only be analogous if he were to depend you pay him not for the journey itself but for every time he employed his skills in applying the brakes. Its nonsense.

    4) If I dodge the fare on enough trains I'll get so used to travelling by rail that I'll end up spending more money on fares in future (41)

    This is a simple cost benefit analysis and has nothing to do with the amount of journeys you go on. If the benefits or rail outweigh the drawbacks then you will use rail (is it cheaper, faster, more convenient than some other form of transport?). However this argument is much more cogent when used to try to understand the benefits of things of artistic nature because it is so much harder to accurately analyse the potential benefits of this media without having experienced them. You dont need to ride a train 10 times before realising that their unreliability or their static schedules dont fit your needs. Can that really be said of artistic media?

    5) Most of the train journeys I take are rubbish anyway, I should only have to pay for the ones I enjoy (#8)

    The enjoyment of train journey has no bearing on its usefulness. Quite the opposite with media shared via file sharing.

    6) Travelling without a ticket isn't the same as theft, so it's OK (#17)

    If your moral distinction of theft includes copyright infringement then so be it. But on a purely legal stand point file sharing and more to the point copy right infringement are NOT theft.

    7) If I had to pay the fare I wouldn't travel, so the train company hasn't really lost any money. (#11,13)

    Again this is the capacity issue. If the price of the fair precludes your journey then the pricing system has in essence worked as the seats are limited resource. But if the seats are unlimited how does it make sense that the train company are losing money?

    8) Train companies have been telling us for years that fare dodging is costing them money, and yet the trains still run ! What a bunch of scaremongers ! (#40)

    This is not an argument for or against files sharing, this is simply an argument that reminds everyone that you should not trust those institutions who seek to curb civil liberties to maintain their monopolies.

    9)Train companies are Bad, Bad, People who make Profits ... (#3,4,5,26 and lots of others ... )

    Im struggling to see how this is an argument against file sharing.

    Companies supposedly operate in a free market environment should they receive governmental help in order to prop them up?

    10) It's impossible for anyone to stop people from fare dodging because people can always find a way round it, therefore it's OK for me to do it (#31)

    Again this a false analogy between a technology which by its essence provides an infinite resource compared with fare dodging which is resource limiting.

    11) Travel is part of the cultural inheritance of humanity and should not be restricted by ability to pay for it (#28)

    Sorry to bang on about it but this a false analogy!!! Money is used as a method to determine who can get access to limited resources. However if a resource (which may or may not be culturally significant) can be shared limitlessly with no detriment to others why should its availability be restricted by charging for it?

  • Comment number 84.

    I love movies. I really do.
    I went to the cinema twice this weekend; once to see Wolverine (Hogwash.) and once to see Star Trek (Surprisingly good, even for someone who's not a fan.)

    I went and saw these movies at the cinema because that's how they're meant to be seen; big screen, surround sound, the whole shebang. Eventually, I expect I will buy Star Trek on DVD, so I can see it again in my own home.

    But this is the thing. In my own home, I have a powerful-ish computer, a good internet connection, a portable video games console that can play videos and an portable Video/MP3 player. But for some reason, the film industry things I should only be able to have this movie on a little shiny plastic disk.
    Oh well, at least I can take the film off the little shiny plastic disk and put it on my computer, and thence to the MP3 player/games console. That should be okay, right? I mean, I'll have paid for the movie, right?

    "Oh no no no," says the film industry. "That's illegal."
    "But I paid for this!" I'll say. "I should be able to use it how I like!"
    "Uh-uh. Wrong. It's the little shiny plastic disk or nothing for you, my young friend."
    "That sucks."
    "We don't care. We have your money. Oh, and don't even think about taking the little shiny plastic disk to an oil-rig. That's illegal too."
    "Maybe I'll just download the damn thing, then."
    It's at this point that the film industry runs to the government, crying and sucking its thumb and saying: "We took the muh-muh-man's money twice fuh-fuh-for the same muh-movie, and now, and now he wants to wuh-wuh-watch it! Wah! Wah! Wah!"

    Well, cry me a bloody river.

    There's only so many times these people can miss the digital distribution boat before they should stop complaining, suck it up and admit that perhaps it time they made a real effort, instead of blaming their market for not demanding the services thay're prepared to provide.

  • Comment number 85.

    I use P2p filesharing to download BBC/ITV Programmes every day, because I cannot get them.
    I live outside the UK so cannot use BBC Iplayer or watch BBC/ITV Live.
    I would gladly pay for this service.

  • Comment number 86.

    Another branch of the entertainment industry is also fighting the digital age. The book industry. The same arguments are put up about the evils of file sharing and the need to combat piracy. If I buy a paper book, I can read it, loan it to my friends, change the cover, pretty much do what I like with it. If I buy an ebook, which is often more expensive, I can ony use it on the device I have activated. So if this breaks, I need to buy all over again.
    Now the book industry has to contend with LIBRARIES they give free loans of books. Doesn't sound much different in some ways to p2p file sharing. Authors still make money, J.K.Rowling is not exactly on the breadline.
    The industries have to adapt to the new technology and find a way of making money with them. Fighting this is not a sound business model.

  • Comment number 87.

    I work for a UK ISP (for obvious reasons I'm not revealing which one) and the figure of 50% of traffic being p2p stuff of any sort, let alone illegal downloads is complete claptrap. Our traffic analysis suggests that the figure _might_ be as high as 2-3% at peak times for p2p. Let's be really generous and presume that 90% of that is illegal stuff (not too likely now that numerous software companies are sending out distributions of p2p networks). That has us with a possible peak-usage figure of 2.7%. Looking at 24hr stats the average works out at somewhere closer to 1.5% p2p traffic.

    I guess it could be that we're unusual as an ISP but I doubt it (off-the-record conversations with contacts in other ISPs suggest it's really unlikely). I really would like to see some idea of where the figures outlined by "The UK creative industries" come from. I suspect straight out of someone's head.

  • Comment number 88.

    POSTER #45

    "lock up all file sharers"

    good plan; theres only like a billion of us...

  • Comment number 89.

    i dont think it affects the music industry. It allows me to listen to a wider variety of music and its actually made me spend more money. also how woudl they police it? I just bought 20 cd's, and i wanted to back them up, it would have taken ages to rip them all, so i just downloaded them. Would I get disconnected for that?
    I think they really need to think this through!!!

  • Comment number 90.

    What's the BBC's view on someone who pays the licence fee, and then decides to download a BBC TV show instead of watching it on the TV?

    More generally, consider the example of someone who in addition pays cable/satellite TV fees, but ends up downloading the shows rather than watching on TV - either because it's more convenient, or they're fed up of waiting months for a US show to come out in the UK. The TV companies still get hundreds of pounds per year, but he'll still get counted under illegal filesharing, as it's still copyright infringement even if he has a licence for that material (it's even against the law in this country to copy a CD you bought to your mp3 player!)

    As for the lost jobs, even if this was true, whilst it is reasonable for people in that industry to be upset, it is ludicrous to claim that this is a loss to the economy as a whole - this is the broken window fallacy. Even if people were spending less money on TV as a result, then that money will be spent in other ways, causing no net loss of jobs or loss to the economy.

    Think about it - we have a means where information can be copied cheaply, rather than requiring expensive distribution methods - and they claim that this *harms* the economy? Of course it doesn't. In fact, the money saved from the less costly distribution method will overall benefit the economy. Fair enough if they want to say it will harm their industry, but to claim this as a loss to the economy as a whole shows a great misunderstanding of economics.

  • Comment number 91.

    Mark: You're right about those "you wouldn't steal a car" adverts on DVD. Yes by definition, I PAID for this DVD, so why the hell are you threatening me? The people who get their films from BitTorrent or the dodgy market stool won't see that advert.

  • Comment number 92.

    I use to filesharing p2p until news about letters being sent etc started.

    The interesting thing is I have a large CD collection which didn't exist before I started file sharing and I haven't added a single CD since I stopped file sharing over 3 years ago.

    My CD buying was driving by file sharing as I only buy a CD if i know I like the music.

  • Comment number 93.

    To be fair these companies also use the internet and the same three strikes rule should be applied to them.

    Three copyright infringement by a company and all internet access removed, online music store closed, a complete online ban.

    If they really believed their material was so original and creative they would have no problem with this, and maybe we would get some original material for a change

  • Comment number 94.

    Suppose this: Having seen and enjoyed this pre-release which I gather is INCOMPLETE, I decide the film is good and go to the cinema to see it. Few people would have seen and enjoyed this prerelease and not gone to see the film, as the prerelease was not complete and people like to see complete things. It cannot possibly have cost them money, as I certinately would not pay £20 for a film I have no reason to assume I'd like. THIS ARGUMENT IS STUPID!

    Even if it did cost them money, it was money from people who would stagger blindly into a theatre and pay a mint to see a film they didn't like; they don't need more money. If anything they need to spend less time and money making films that people don't like. Or films that are MINDLESSLY GENERIC.

  • Comment number 95.

    Hey Darren, I think you should do a piece on Featured Artists' Coalition:

    For a long time we have been hearing too much from the recording industry and not enough from the musicians and artists. Billy Bragg wrote an interesting article in the Guardian yesterday, I think you should read it, you will find it interesting.

  • Comment number 96.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 97.

    Internet File Sharing - Separating Myth from Reality

    Downloading music for free doesn't give rise to any problems.

    It is a common misconception that accessing so-called 'free music' - by downloading or burning music from the internet without the creator's permission and without paying for it - doesn't really hurt anyone.

    Nothing could be further from the truth. Unauthorised uploading or copying is not free at all - it is the musicians and the people who invest in the music who are paying the price. The artists, first and foremost, the labels that have invested in them, the publishers who manage the copyright of their songs and the thousands of people involved in the many different areas of the music industry are all affected. Downloading and burning without permission doesn't fairly reward the efforts of those who create, develop and record music, and who depend on it for their livelihood.

    More illegal copying and internet distribution means less sales, and that means less money for companies to invest in artists and music. This affects a whole community of people: the employee at the retail store that faces closure; the aspiring artist who won't get a deal because record companies have less money to invest in new talent; and the artist whose first album just failed to sell enough to turn a profit. On top of that, there are the thousands of other people who depend upon music for their income: from the sound engineers and CD factory workers to the band managers and graphic artists. There are also countless music magazines, entrepreneurs trying to set up legitimate online sites, designers, specialist PR people the list goes on.

    Furthermore - copying music without permission is illegal. And just because it doesn't involve organised crime or knock-offs sold on street corners doesn't mean that it isn't taken very seriously.

    Most recording artists are doing very well, so downloading a few tracks for free is not going to hurt them.

    The overwhelming majority of artists are NOT rich. And it's not just a few tracks that are being downloaded illegally from the internet - it's millions of tracks. The biggest losers from internet file sharing are the upcoming artists because not paying for music means much less money to invest in them. Fewer artists get the chance to make their mark, and the labels are less likely to take a risk with more experimental music or niche genres. This means it's the music lover who gets short-changed. Consumers of 'free music' may get a short-term benefit, but at the long-term cost of hurting the artists they most admire, and new talent.

    People who accuse the music industry of not producing anything new should give some thought to how internet file sharing impacts new artists. Think of the bands - and there are many, including Cold Chisel, INXS, Midnight Oil, Split Enz and Powderfinger - who didn't make it big with their first or second album. Bands need time to flourish, and if their early sales are cannibalised on the internet, they may never get the chance to become the next INXS or Powderfinger.

    Unauthorised copying doesn't have any measurable effect on the music industry.

    There is consistent evidence throughout the world that unauthorised copying and distribution means less music is sold. The Australian industry has yet to experience these impacts to the same degree as other territories. This has been due, in part, to the delayed take up of broadband internet access in Australia . However, if steps are not taken now, the international experience could well be replicated in Australia .

    Perhaps the most worrying development is that the majority of people downloading music from the internet are young music fans, who are also the biggest consumers of music. In a survey commissioned by ARIA in 2003, those who engaged in internet file sharing reported a net 12% decline in their CD purchasing behaviour as a direct result of that activity. There are similar findings all around the world.

    Downloading for free benefits artists as it gets them heard which promotes their music and boosts sales.

    We support the use of promotional material made available for free download - but only where the artists and copyright owners have authorised it for this purpose. This must be a choice that they make, not one forced upon them by others. Making music available on the internet is a really exciting development for artists. The internet can be a great tool for new acts who wish to drum up interest in their work.

    However, it isn't true that making music 'free' will always promote the sales of that track or album. In fact, research all around the world shows that downloading and burning is substituting sales significantly more than they are promoting them. Research in Australia commissioned by ARIA in 2003 shows that many active file-sharers spend less on music since they started getting it for free and that they reported an overall 12% decline in purchasing behaviour as a direct consequence of file sharing.

    It is those members of the general public who think that they have the right to 'share' music with millions of individuals without having paid for it (and contrary to the wishes of the copyright owner, recording artist and songwriters) that are damaging the music industry. As a consequence they are threatening the careers of budding artists before they even begin.

    The music industry wants to stop the advance of technology.

    Technology is not the enemy of music - quite the reverse. There has always been a healthy relationship between advances in technology and the music business: from the Edison cylinder, through vinyl, tape and the CD. The impact of digital technology has opened doors for artists and many others involved in music; allowing more experimentation and sophisticated home recording, online real time musical collaborations, webcasts, enhanced sound - and the ability to share all that with a wider global audience.

    The music industry will always make use of new technology - for example Super Audio CDs and DVD Audio, as well as the opportunities that new 3G phones bring. Technology is also helping the industry to transfer thousands of tracks in artists' back catalogues into digital format. And, of course, the industry both here and internationally is enthusiastically supporting the development of legitimate online retailers.

    But while the methods of recording or distribution might change, what doesn't change is the fact that artists and those who work with them depend upon copyright and getting paid for their livelihood.

    There are no legitimate services currently available in Australia.

    There are already legitimate online retailers offering hundreds of thousands of tracks from all the major record companies and many independent labels. No doubt, others will also commence operations in the near future.

    These sites offer better quality of product and service than illegal alternatives. Many are now offering transfer to portable devices. They are not, however, progressing as quickly as hoped because of stiff competition from free music infringers who have sidestepped all the complex licensing and consent processes needed to offer the recordings legitimately.

    Nothing can be done to stop illegal downloading.

    Illegal downloading is a huge problem, but the industry is committed to successfully addressing it. As most people know, the record industry has been involved in internet based litigation, and continues to be involved in litigation, both here and elsewhere around the world. While much of that litigation has been against file sharing networks and their operators, in some territories the industry has also taken legal action against individuals who upload substantial quantities of infringing music. But that's not the industry's only initiative to address the problem.

    The music industry has launched many initiatives to educate consumers and businesses around the world about the consequences of illegal online activity. Many people who enjoy music are simply unaware of the effect their actions have on bands and artists.

    Everyone knows that one of the best ways to stop people from using the illegal sites is to provide them with good alternatives. Many companies are investing substantial sums in developing legal alternatives. However, all this takes time - it's hard to compete with something that's offered for free, but it is happening.

    We're also seeing the start of new systems used for better electronic delivery of music. Digital rights management tools are being used to help track music online, so that everyone who is entitled to be paid for their efforts, is actually paid. New technology is also being used in ever more sophisticated copy control devices for music, similar to those already used on DVDs and computer software.

    But there's more to stopping mass copyright theft than by just investing in new legitimate services. Indeed, those new services are not going to flourish if there isn't a fair space for them to develop without being stifled by online piracy.

    Ultimately, none of this legitimate activity can take place without a strong legal framework to support it. Copyright laws exist to protect the rights of artists and those who invest in their careers, allowing them to determine whether and how copying, distributing, broadcasting and other uses of their works take place, and giving them the tools they need to take action against people who infringe their rights. Those who ignore copyright laws should not expect an easy ride.

    Downloading is just like home taping.

    File sharing via the internet cannot be likened to copying tapes deck to deck at home. That's like comparing someone physically copying a book to a printing house churning out hundreds of copies a minute of the same book - and then making it available to absolutely everyone around the world for free.

    The damage this sort of copying causes to music is enormous. But it also presents other dangers to the unwitting consumer. If you use a peer-to-peer service, you open your computer and all the information you've stored in it up to hundreds of strangers - simply at the touch of a button. When you use a file-sharing service you may unwittingly be acting as a 'mass distributor'; as whenever you're online every other user around the world has the ability to access your hard drive. And this could lead to problems with your personal computer, including the transmission of viruses.

    The record companies only have themselves to blame for not getting their artists' tracks online quickly enough.

    While it is very easy for anyone to upload an MP3 music file onto the net and give it away for nothing, it takes time to do so in such a way that the online product is tracked through the process, with the artists, publishers, record companies, and retailers all being paid their share of the price. The systems for doing this have had to be created from scratch and there have been complex negotiations between all the relevant parties (including obtaining consents from artists) in order to get the music licensed for digital sale.

    Second, it is not true to say that record companies have not got their music online quickly enough. The music industry is far more advanced than any other in terms of producing its product for digital sale. What is true is that the appearance of the MP3 file format has meant that the music industry has been forced to grapple with issues of theft of intellectual property on the internet far sooner than other industries. Unlike most products where the internet is simply used to help sell the physical product, with music the virtual online copy is practically the same as the physical product.

    The speed with which the MP3 music files spread over the internet meant that as the music companies started to digitise their product, set up payment systems and invest in companies (some of which went bust in the early dotcom 'bubble') they were already in a situation where they were competing with freely available product. And trying to compete against an over 99% pirate market on the internet is very difficult. It is ridiculous to expect a record company who has to invest a huge amount in its artists to compete with a distributor who is giving music away for free.

    Source: ARIA

    I have read through this whole article and the comments are mostly people justifying stealing music from the artist - there is no justification for comprising struggling musician's meager earnings by taking without buying.

    I am tired of seeing my fav up and coming bands that I love not getting past their first album because of poor sales even though they have been unmercifully illegally downloaded - It makes no sense to me to download music you love and not help musos make a living so that they can continue to make the music you love in the future.

    It is true if this trend to just take what you want continues there will be no quality music to download legally or illegally.


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites