Rory Cellan-Jones

Facts about file-sharing

  • Rory Cellan-Jones
  • 27 Nov 09, 12:50 GMT

As the Digital Britain bill starts to make its way through Parliament, the row over its controversial measures against unlawful file-sharers is getting ever more heated.

Peter MandelsonSupporters in the music and movie industries are rejoicing that something is at last being done to protect artists whose property they say has been stolen, while critics of the bill say it represents a fundamental attack on the rights of internet users.

But what's missing from the whole debate is some data. Just how much unlawful file-sharing is going on in the UK and what effect is it having on the creative industries? It's hard to be sure really - the music industry often says that twenty unauthorised tracks are downloaded for every one that's paid for, but I'm not sure how that figure was worked out. The government, too, seems hazy, unable to say how it will know when file-sharing has been reduced by 70%, the target to be attained by the initial deterrence campaign before stronger measures are contemplated.

file sharingThen there are the assertions made about file-sharers' behaviour. Critics of a crackdown say they are the very people who spend more on legitimate downloads, and that they would stop if only there were enough well-priced alternatives on offer. The music industry says there is ample evidence that deterrents work, pointing to an apparent rise in sales of music in Sweden following the legal action against the Pirate Bay.

So in an attempt to shed a little more light on this issue, I asked two of the most vociferous lobby groups to answer five questions about file-sharing, supplying me with a little bit of evidence on each of them.

Geoff Taylor of the BPI, the music industry trade body, and Jim Killock of the Open Rights Group, which believes the Digital Economy bill is deeply illiberal, responded with alacrity. Here's how it went - and even if you violently disagree with what either side says, please try to critique their evidence rather than their characters in your replies.

(1) What evidence do we have of the extent of unlawful file-sharing in the UK?

Jim Killock, ORG: Not enough. Most of it comes from the recorded music industry. We also have evidence in a rapid decline in file sharing: Music Ally thinks it has reduced by 40% [110 Kb PDF] .
Geoff Taylor, BPI: Plenty. There are several pieces of substantial research showing that around 7 to 8 million people in the UK are file-sharing music alone. Let's look at two examples.
Harris Interactive conducted research among the UK general public aged 16-54 from February to March 2009, which gave a 23% incidence of music file-sharing using peer-to-peer networks in the UK population aged 16-54, or 8.3 million file-sharers based on ONS population data. This number omits people under 16 completely.
Additionally, Jupiter Research conducted consumer research on behalf of the BPI in August 2007, which predicted 6.7 million peer-to-peer file-sharers during 2008, and 7.3 million for 2009.

(2) What evidence is there of the effect that file-sharing has had on the UK music industry?

ORG: Whatever effect it has, we can assume that effect is reducing.
Times Labs226And the music industry has grown in the last ten years - it has not shrunk, as many would have you believe.
The shift has been towards digital and live music, and away from physical sales.
BPI: The observable link between the onset and growth of peer-to-peer and the decline of UK record sales is an obvious place to start. In 1999, UK trade deliveries were worth £1,133m, compared to £893.8m in 2008.
In terms of academic research - contrary to the claims made by critics - there is study after study which demonstrates the link between illegal P2P file-sharing and lost music sales. These include:
Jupiter ResearchJupiter Research (UK, 2009): The Analysis of the European Online Music Market Development and Assessment of Future Opportunities [179Kb PDF] - "The overall impact of file-sharing on music spending is negative."
Institute Center for Technology Freedom (USA, 2007): The True Cost of Sound Recording Piracy to the US Economy by Stephen Siwek - This study estimates the damage to the USA economy as a result of music piracy and evaluates the impact on jobs, earnings and lost tax revenues, concluding: "Piracy of recorded music costs the US sound recording industries billions of dollars in lost revenue and profits."
Jupiter Research (UK) - Music Industry Losses. The report concluded that online music piracy cost the UK music industry £1.6bn between 2001 and 2012; in 2007 alone, online music piracy resulted in £159.2m of foregone spend.
Norbert Michael (USA, 2006): The Impact of Digital File‐sharing on the Music Industry: An Empirical Analysis [207Kb PDF] - The study found that file‐sharing had a negative impact on music sales, suggesting that "file‐sharing may have reduced album sales (between 1999‐2003) by as much as 13% for some music consumers."
There is a small number of studies which purport to show a positive relationship between file-sharing and music sales, but these have been subsequently heavily criticised in peer review.

(3) Isn't it true that file-sharers also tend to be the people who spend more on music?

ORG: Absolutely. Every academic study has shown this, for instance the Institute for Information Law study in the Netherlands [1Mb PDF]. Most file-sharing is about discovery - finding new things, as people do with radio - which is why new streaming services have eaten into file-sharing.
BPI: It is of course true that many people who file-share buy music, but it is also true that many file-sharers prefer to free-load with little willingness to pay for music at all. The report from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, based on research from Jupiter Research and Forrester Research [179Kb PDF], succinctly sets out the case.
A recent Demos survey [3.51Mb Powerpoint] garnered plenty of headlines, but its flaws were not widely reported. Firstly, it grouped people who used search engines to discover music in with people who use P2P, but you can of course use search engines to discover music, then listen legally to streamed music for free or buy music.
The study simply illustrated the unsurprising fact that, as a group, file-sharers tend to be bigger consumers of recorded music than non-file-sharers - because most file-sharers are very interested in music while some non-file-sharers don't consume music at all. The net effect of illegal file-sharing in the UK and elsewhere has been to reduce legitimate sales. This is why spending on recorded music has fallen every year since illegal file-sharing began to become widespread.

(4) Doesn't the Swedish example show that when action is taken against unlawful file-sharing , there is a beneficial impact on legal music sales?

ORG: We'd need to see the whole figures to know what was happening, but legal music sales are growing everywhere, not just in Sweden. And the real result of the clampdown in Sweden has been the election of two Pirate Party MEPs with 7% of the population voting for them. Hardly a victory for the music industry.
BPI:It certainly looks that way, and there's similar news from South Korea, where the adoption of new anti-piracy laws has seen music sales rebound after years of decline.
In Sweden, music industry revenues rose 18% during the first nine months of this year, coinciding with the introduction of new laws in April to tackle illegal file-sharing. This isn't the whole story, though: there's also been a ruling on the Pirate Bay and Spotify has become very popular very quickly. But the increase in sales is very encouraging, and there's reason to be optimistic that revenues in Britain could follow a similar pattern if legislation is passed that steers people towards new legal services.

(5) Aren't there now plenty of legal alternatives for people who want to get hold of music online without resorting to file-sharing?

ORG: We can see this is what's happened, but we can also see that Spotify has closed its doors to new customers because the license payments they make are unreasonably high.
Online radio services like Spotify need to have licensing based on revenue share rather than per-play costs in order to make a profit.
Online licensing in general is still very restrictive with unreasonable and arbitrary conditions frequently imposed, including handing over of nearly 20% of their business in Spotify's case.
It would be well worth the Competition Commission taking a close look at the market abuse that is taking place and restricting trade.
BPI: There are more than 35 legal music services in the UK already. The a la carte download model popularised by iTunes has now been joined by many subscription and streaming services - such as Spotify and We7 - with vast catalogues and catering for all tastes and budgets. In the last few weeks alone, Sky Songs has launched, and retail giant Tesco has revamped its entertainment offering. There's more choice of music retailers online than you are likely to find on your local high street.
There is no longer any sensible justification for file-sharing illegally, since many services now allow free access to huge catalogues of music and feature playlist sharing and other social tools.
Sadly, these developments haven't made any significant difference to levels of illegal file- sharing. The growth of new music services will continue to be held back unless new legislation is passed, as it is difficult to justify developing new services when the market includes unauthorised services operating illegally to provide music entirely for free.


  • Comment number 1.

    This is the end for Mininova; NOT for file-sharing. Look at how the "war" was "won" when napster was taken down - new technologies emerged and the sharers simply moved there. There is no loyalty to the torrent sites at all so it's RIP Mininova, The Pirate bay and probably soon ISOHunt but, there will be others and replacements.

    As I have always maintained, music should be FREE, free to buy, free to listen to (with no annoying adverts - the people are sick of adverts everywhere we go, everywhere we look) and free to share.

    It's the record companies that have the problem with file-sharing, not the artists (although a few jumped on Lilly A's hypocritical bandwagon).

    If music was free then people, if they like what they hear, would go and see the artists perform live at concerts and gigs etc. They pay them there (ticket fee) and if they're good enough, once the venue costs are paid, they should have a nice tidy amount in their back pockets.

    The music industry are still saying that each download represents a lost sale. I'm sorry but I download music and I do not buy afterwards. Thing is, if I did not download, I still would not buy.

    On a good note to file-sharing, there's a heck of a lot less harm to the environment as there's no inlays, inks or packaging to consider ;)

    Mininova is dead but long live file-sharing.

  • Comment number 2.

    Oh dear, I missed out on commenting on this:

    "The music industry says there is ample evidence that deterrents work, pointing to an apparent rise in sales of music in Sweden following the legal action against the Pirate Bay."

    I didn't realise it was just Swedish people who had access to TPB. Seriously, so more people in one country have purchased more music since a world-available torrent site went offline?! Why have they not increased in other contries too??

  • Comment number 3.

    Presented in this format, it looks as though the BPI has an answer for everything the ORG says. If presented the other way round, with the ORG answers second, it would appear the reverse. The fact that you've presented the BPI argument second in every single case shows bias. I notice also there's no mention made of legal file-sharing, which uses the same technology & looks much the same, but without deep packet inspection of all network traffic who's to know? And it takes three accusations of misdeeds, not three counts of being found guilty of misdeeds, to get disconnected according to this law. This law is on a par with ASBOs and Control Orders, and as with these, there is huge scope for miscarriages of justice with the Digital Economy Bill if enacted.

  • Comment number 4.

    Reading Geoff's answers still makes me think that BPI is missing the bigger picture. The internet reduces distribution costs and creates the expectation of greater transparency. Other forms of online content (news, applications, maps) are adapting to the freeium business model but these guys seem to have their heads stuck firmly in the sand.

    Most music lovers want to see artist rewarded for their talent and sure, let the labels make a bit of cash too but to me, it feels like we are still being ripped off.

  • Comment number 5.

    I don't trust estimates on the impact of file sharing on music revenues because there is a difference in what you would buy vs what you would sample. I has a friend who had downloaded tons of music, he must have listened to about 5% of it and probably would have paid for even less than that. Again, the much quoted CD sales decline is easily explained by the introduction of digital and more focus on live music.

    I agree that music you download when you would have bought it is stealing, something should be done about that.

    I think if the music industry completely eradicated file sharing their revenue increase would be far less than we are being led to believe.

    But the main objection of file sharers shill hasn't been properly addressed. The question you should have asked Rory is:
    'If file sharing were curtailed and there was a significant corresponding increase in music sales, would the music industry make a firm commitment to drop prices?'

  • Comment number 6.

    Could Geoff Taylor of the BPI please tell me where I can legally download an album of equivalent quality to that of a compact disc, i.e. lossless, at a price that reflects the absence of a physical product and its associated manufacturing, storage and distribution costs i.e. at a price significantly lower than that of a compact disc?

    Once you’ve solved that little problem people might start to resent the music industry a little less.

  • Comment number 7.

    'P2P is a demand signal from the market,' says Cory Doctorow. The music industry just refuses to listen to what P2P is telling them. Steve Jobs heard though. Then he took over the music biz's distribution whilst it was meeting the lawyers. Oops.

  • Comment number 8.

    Rory has asked for evidence and, as much as it pains me to admit it, the music industry has done a far better job of doing that.

    And credit to the music industry for catching on when it comes to the online market and understanding that they have to change and actually give people what they want, because if they don't then people will go elsewhere. It took them a long time but they got there in the end. Maybe the film and publishing industries will get there one day too.

    However, I still think online music is over-priced and if I feel I'm not offered a good deal, I'll go and get it for free.

    And I find the idea that all music should be free except for live performances to be somewhat unworkable - to put it politely.

    Now I have to go and have a shower because I feel dirty for agreeing with the music industry...

  • Comment number 9.

    The BPI and the four big labels it represents seems to be willing to do ANYTHING to keep control of what people listen to. File-sharing and other modern technologies have allowed small, genuinely independent labels (I have one) the opportunities to distribute music that hasn't been cynically designed to separate musically unsophisticated teenagers from their money. The big labels have utterly failed to keep up with the modern world, fighting to maintain outmoded 20th century business models with their massive unsustainable overheads. They blame everyone but themsleves for their own ineptitude. In the long run, they will fail and die and new business paradigms will develop that are realistic and allow for the fact that people explore and consume music differently now than in the days when the unimaginative accountants behind the big labels were young. This is the modern world and the BPI needs to adapt or die. It's happened to dinosaurs before...

  • Comment number 10.

    I download music illegaly on the odd occasion - i have no intention of paying for it.

    Before filesharing came about - i had no intention of paying for it so i never bought CD's. I probably own three CD's max and i couldn't even tell you where they are.

    I'm not a music lover at all, so probably best not to comment but there is one thing that makes me sleep easier at night after illegally downloading a couple of songs....
    The TV show Cribs on MTV..........

  • Comment number 11.

    Rory, did you ask for or get any response from the movie or the TV industries? In particular, I'd like to hear a response to the scenario of people downloading TV shows from, say, the US. As TV shows aren't sold direct to customers but to broadcasters, how can an individual who gets this week's episode of any given show, eg CSI, from the US actually be deemed a lost sale? I often do this for watching it on the train, then watch it properly on TV when it's shown on TV here. For some shows, I'll go further and buy the DVD afterwards. So, no lost sale there. Also, there are plenty of good shows that are not available in the European market, as the broadcast rights haven't been sold. If I get a copy of one of them, how is that a lost sale? They've chosen not to sell the show to any UK broadcasters, not me.

  • Comment number 12.

    Perhaps for a future blog, ask each side for an opinion on the research submitted by the other side...

    Not the opinions of each side, since they could argue and counter argue their points of view forever; but their interpretation of the raw data.

    But as Matt stated in post 8, the BPI produced more research evidence in their responses than the ORG - often citing several sources per question.

    I wonder if there are any significant organisations with views somewhere in between the two extremes presented...

  • Comment number 13.

    It was nice to see some specific answers to specific questions from a notional representative from two sides in this debate. On this evidence alone my personal opinion is that the BPI have the slight lead in the evidence for thier argument.

    I have five qestions of my own towards those who think that music should be free and that artists should get their money back through live performances...

    1. What about the engineers, producers and everyone else involved in making the music that they want to be free? How would you encourage them to work for anyone other than those bands who can make a sufficient profit on their tours to channel the cash back to everyone involved in the recording process?

    2. How much do they expect ticket prices to rise if they also have to cover the world-wide costs of writing, recording, manufacturing and distributing (both physically and electronically) the artists music?

    3. How would that business model work if I wanted to listen to some music by a dead artist, or by a band that has subsequently broken up and is never going to tour again, and still wanted to make a finaicial contribution towards thier family?

    4. What about entire genre's of music that don't have multi-date sell-out tours or bands that are never going to tour in the UK? How do I make a financial contribution to the musicians in that case?

    5. What about classical music? There are a great many CDs that I've bought of truly wonderful music that I never seen live or even on a programme. How is the whole orchestra going to get paid for making that recording if it not going to be performed?

    And a single specific point to finish with. The CO2 output from keeping the millions of servers and personal computers that collectively make up the internet running 24/7 is truly colossal. Please don't make the mistake of thinking that filesharing is somehow good for the environment. It may be better than physical production of CDs (I don't have any comparative data to hand) but it's not withough it's own environmental impacts (though having your server based in Iceland would help).

  • Comment number 14.

    Try CASHMusic or Nine Inch Nails - both release lossless music for free.

  • Comment number 15.

    To post 13 (Pytorb). Hmm, some good questions, certainly food for thought .. will post later with some ideas etc.

    As for your final comment regarding "The CO2 output from keeping the millions of servers and personal computers that collectively make up the internet running 24/7 is truly colossal", well dur yeah but not all of them are hosting files/p2p stuff. If there are only 7 million in the UK alone (going on the figure to be believed on number of file-sharers) then that's a tiny proportion vs the entire number of computers in the UK alone.

    Plus, with P2p, the files are split, one 5mb MP3 file for example may be grabbed from multiple sources, allowing some (but not all of course) of the other "hosts" to be turned off.

    Ultimately, as you've probably guessed, I'm not the greatest business mind lol but if music's given away on a non-profit basis to be made up from live tours, perhaps all those additional people won't be needed in the first place?

    As for your classical example, there's nothing stopping them from touring ;)

  • Comment number 16.

    How do the government and music industry plan to detect, prosecute and punish the millions of people who are currently downloading illegally ?

    We can't even keep murderers and rapists in jail so what is the chance of thousands of people getting sent down for file-sharing ?

    And BTW, The Pirate Bay has not been closed down, the site went down after the court ruling but was back up and working fine about three hours later and it now has more users than it had before that ruling.
    I know this because I've downloaded lots of things from the site as well as making a donation to the owners to help them pay their legal fees.

    So, far from being closed down, the site is now stronger and more popular than ever before.

    The myth that file-sharing is damaging the industry has also been blown wide open in recent years, there are more independent labels making music now than there ever has been and the British music industry is continuing to grow.

    Some young guys who live a few doors down from me started up their own label last year and they now write, produce and distribute their music from their own home, primarily using the internet.
    They didn't need an expensive recording studio, CD manufacturer, distributor or an army of consultants and executives so whatever money they make they keep for themselves.
    This has meant that even though they are only selling a small amount of recordings and getting a small amount of advertising revenue from their website they are still able to keep their business running in a sustainable way as their costs are a fraction of those incurred by musicians who are signed to a traditional label.
    They've also built up a dedicated fan base, some of whom travel over a hundred miles to hear them perform live in some of our local clubs.

    Far from destroying the music industry I believe that file sharing and free (or very cheap) content is actually going to save the music industry from the corporatisation that has been slowly suffocating it since the late 1960s.

  • Comment number 17.

    The poor music industry. In the mid to late 90's they ripped us off and grew fat on their profits as the price of CD Albums crept up to £15.99 or higher in the UK. Suchs a shame for them that they couldn't rob us like that forever...

    Nowadays people are more likely to spend 99p to download a single instead of buying the full album and risking not liking many of the tracks. My personal belief is that that has more of an impact on revenues than file sharing.

    Home taping didn't kill the music industry, and file sharing won't either, it'll just force it to evolve.

  • Comment number 18.

    While the music industry has many good and valid points, they are also wrong on many different levels. I and many of my friends who according to their definations would be one of the people who would be against illegal file-sharing (in up and coming bands, need more income etc) and they and myself are completely in favour of file-sharing. If it gets the music listened to by a wider audience then would previously have been made possible, then that is not a problem. The returns come from people buying the CDs anyway, from other merch, and also from gigs and live performances. That is my and a lot of peoples opinions as well.

    Sadly Lilly Allens point of view and arguements here in regards to this are not really applicable. File sharing isn't destroying the music industry. The record labels are. You see they blame us for cheating artists but really its the labels themselves.

  • Comment number 19.

    #13 - I agree completely with these questions. Being a former musician myself, I have no sympathy for the record companies, whose obsession with churning out identikit acts with no care for artistic merit merely stunt the growth of new bands. However, I also know how difficult it is for bands to get into a position where they are even able to record music to a decent standard, never mind trailing round the country touring it. It's all very well for established acts to decide they'll give out their music for free as a thank you to fans who have made them millionaires, and if they want to do that then all credit to them; but where did this idea come from that music SHOULD be free? To hear people like badger_fruit, you would think they have a divine right to have all music given to them for free, as if the musicians who make it are mere slaves to their whims. That's pretty typical of modern-day attitudes to life, where people confuse "rights" with "privileges".

    I've bought many albums over time by bands that I have no chance of seeing live, whether it be through their death, demise, location, or purely because they are a studio-only act. Besides, the rising cost of ticket sales means gig-going is becoming an increasingly expensive game - I used to regularly go to several concerts per month, seeing many bands who I only "quite" liked, but these days, it's just not worth the effort, so I'm left to wait for those acts who I desperately want to see. If recorded music was free, then a lot of acts I get albums buy would go unrewarded for their endeavours. Fair? I think not.

    The music industry has had this coming for a long time thanks to decades of over-pricing music, and much of their arguments are severe cases of bending the truth (when I used to download a few tracks off an album to decide if I liked it or not, my music purchases must have gone up nearly ten-fold, which makes a mockery of the "we're losing album sales" line; also, about 99% of the tracks I've downloaded in my life have been live versions or otherwise unavailable tracks like old b-sides, rather than things that are available on a CD in the high street - I bet the BPI's figures don't take this into account). But the arguments put forward by the average filesharer/downloader are far from being correct, and merely reiterate the idea that downloaders are freeloaders.

    Music needs to be cheaper, but not free. The artist should perhaps make the same amount per sale as they do now, but for that amount to be a much more substantial percentage of the overall cost (say, 50%-60%?). That way, people could get much more legal music for the same amount they used to spend, meaning more artists getting more money. Winners all round, surely? Except for the unimportant ones, obviously.

  • Comment number 20.

    I think the BPI is missing the bigger picture. Essentially what used to work will not work anymore! Never!

    However hard they try they will not be earning billions of dollars of profit by over marketing their product. The internet has allowed communication between music lovers to blossom and such what was fed to them by TV and radio has gone out the window. There will still be a place for top 40 music, but not at a level that it used to be. The music industry needs to face reality. Many, not all, people have realized that the music created by a board to make the highest profit is NOT the best music.

    Music comes from the heart and soul of the artist. Money should be expected, but not riches.

  • Comment number 21.

    @ #1 badger_fruit

    Hi. Assuming you have a job, on Monday morning can you please go to your boss and tell him that from now on you'll be working for free? If he asks you why you are doing such a preposterous thing tell him that someone on the internet has such little respect for you that they think they have the right to demand that you work for free. If your boss asks how you intend to make a living tell him not to worry because people on the internet know all about you and your industry and know of other ways you can make a living from your efforts.

    Could you post another comment on Monday evening telling us how you got on? I wouldn't want to be a hypocrite like Lilly Allen would you?

  • Comment number 22.

    Hi, Assuming you have a job - I hope it isn't driving cattle with a plough because that isn't that popular any more and I think you will find it hard to get work.

    Pass that on to Lilly Allen and the music industry - The world has moved on and so some business models and jobs are not valid any more.

    I wouldn't want to be lacking in understanding how society is changing would you?

  • Comment number 23.

    (some) musicians have a real talent, i'm not suggesting they work for free, i'm saying they do the work, put it out there and then go touring - their success then depends on if they have real talent or not. pop clones such as x-factor etc wouldn't make it very far but real talent will thrive.

    besides, it's not really the artists who are making a stink over this, it's their record companies who are taking a huge slice of the pie for doing what? singing their hearts out? bouncing around on stage for 3 hours while singing their hearts out? no, sitting in an office working out how to make more money from the people who do this.

    so, my point being that those with real talent will make their money from tours while those who don't, well, it's back to a real job for you then.

    you guys can call me a freeloader or whatever you want but i'm 33 and have paid a fair whack for music over my lifetime - there's hardly anything i like anymore but there's the odd track that will come out every now and again which i admit, i don't buy i DL but there's enough people out there buying so so it doesn't bother me.

    AND another thing, seeing ads for "greatest hits" for bands (eg queen) for a tenner, taking the mickey a little surely - i have all their cds (yes, real cds - paid for etc etc) and i can make my own G/H - only copyright law says I can't and I should pay another tenner!!

    I also can't put these songs legally on my ipod, so that's another £1 per track - my ipod holds what, 20,000 tracks or something insane - legally, how can i really fill that up?! sell my car? re-mortgage my house?! hmm, i could sell one of my chil... oh, the wife wouldn't be too pleased about that ... hmm, I could sell the wife ....

    come on, fair use and then perhaps i'd feel a little more inclined to part with my dosh on music (which is a free entitiy, anyone can do it and it comes from the heart and soul) a. which i've already paid for once and b. hardly have any money left these days due to poor country mis-management.

    oh and quickly, to post 21 - sure, i can make as much money doing tech support (which is my job btw) "on the side" as i could working for my boss .. i choose not to though, can't be bothered doing all the work involved in setting up by myself :p

    anyway, it's almost half-five so nearly time for me to clock off, i wish you all a good weekend, no matter if you think i am "the evil" or not

  • Comment number 24.

    Oh, here's how my free music model would work:
    1. Joe and Joanne Bloggs record a song on their home PC - inexpensive yet clear enough to be of a decent quality.
    2. They post this on post on file-sharing websites or whatever and people hear it.
    3. people like it and share it about.
    4. Joe and Joanne make another track or two and post on file-sharing websites
    5. Eventually, J&J have a small following, 500 people or so who really like their music. They post that they are playing in "Club ABC" on whatever date, tickets are a fiver each.
    6. 300 people turn up = £1500. The venue only cost £500 so that's £1000 in their pockets, woo yeah.

    7. J&J invest this £1000 in their next gig, recording new or improving the recordings of their existing stuff.

    More people hear, more people like, more people come, more money to them.
    In between the recordings of songs and playing live, they can get a regular 9-5 job to pay the bills etc.

    And yes, I know I said I was off but I had a brainwave and wanted to splat it on the internets.

  • Comment number 25.

    Rory: following on from our brief chat on Twitter...
    The record industry's use of Sweden as an example to show that a strong deterrent works is completely flawed. Although file sharing traffic within Sweden dropped, initially by 30%, back in April when new laws were introduced, since then traffic has risen and is now back previous levels (see ). I wonder how Mandelson possibly believes that a drop of 70% can be achieved in the U.K. given these kinds of figures from Sweden?

    During this same period, music sales in Sweden have risen by 18% as a whole with 80% of that rise coming from digital music sales (see ).

    So the situation in Sweden is that digital music sales are increasing dramatically while at the same time file sharing is also increasing. This seems to justify precisely what the music industry's critics have been saying all along which is that file sharing only serves to increase sales of music where attractive and reasonably priced digital services are available.

    So to sum up, in Sweden, a country where it is estimated that 40% of the population indulge in file sharing ( sorry but this link is in Swedish), and where over 10% of the population use Spotify ( sorry, again in Swedish) and where Spotify is more popular and earns more money for the music industry than iTunes ( Swedish again), it's hard not to conclude that file sharing positively affects digital music sales if legal alternatives are available.

    p.s. Sorry for all the links to articles in Swedish. Google translate versions of the articles in English here...

  • Comment number 26.

    #24 - that's the most naive business model I've ever seen, which shows a complete lack of understanding of the realities of trying to get a band up and running.

    Even if we disregard the costs of music software (I've heard there is decent Linux software) and the knowledge and abilities to use it properly, you can't just expect to put a song online, garner a fanbase and suddenly be on your way. Ignore what the PR people for Myspace and the likes will tell you - it just doesn't happen like that. The reality is that there is so much music on these sites that it is easy for the listeners to get overwhelmed, and a badly-recorded demo is not going to stand a chance.

    300 from a 500 fanbase is also nonsense - to expect anything more than 10% of your online fanbase to come to gigs is just wild optimism, never mind 80%. £5 at the door, all going into the artists' pockets? Aye, right! Even if they've managed to avoid a Pay-as-you-play gig (otherwise known as "I take the money for the first 50 tickets and then you get the rest... oh, but if you don't get 50, then you pay the difference"), they're not going to be getting the whole £5.

    £1000 for a gig. Honestly, I've never heard of anything so ridiculous. £200 for a (weekend) gig once you're able to attract a decent following, if you're lucky. Believe me, bands get taken advantage of long before they get anywhere NEAR a professional recording studio. It starts the moment they start trying to get gigs.

    When do they have time to promote these gigs at the £500 venues if they've got 9-5 jobs? The "promoters" certainly don't bother themselves if they can help it, and you sound like you're calling for everyone to book their own gigs anyway (lots of luck with that). And when do the producers etc get their money? There are actually quite a few people in the music industry who aren't musicians but do actually provide useful services that are worth being paid for.

  • Comment number 27.

    Hey there, #26 thanks for the response to my #24 post - as i've already mentioned i have no clue about starting a band - in response though, whatever the actual figures are, like anything in life, you've gotta work hard to get it - if these people really want to be superstars then they have to prove they've got what it takes and not just let someone else pimp them as "the next big thing" (as every new manufactured band's got millions behind it and are always played up to be TNBT but rarely make it. I for one don't believe the hype any more and anyone in their right mind shouldn't either.

    I also never said it would be easy.

    Ultimately, yes, myspace or whatever already have hundreds and hundreds of poor music to choose from but they have their own little followings and there must be some of it actually worth listening to. Not my problem that the net's made it hard for them to be heard amongst the rabble. Find another way.

    With regards to "Believe me, bands get taken advantage of long before they get anywhere NEAR a professional recording studio. It starts the moment they start trying to get gigs.", well again, how is that the fault of people file-sharing? It's not, it's due to the greed of the middle-men. Something else that's probably going to be complaining that they're not getting enough money any more since more people get from the internet. Boo hoo.

    To comment # 22, what post are you replying to please?

    And finally, I would like to hear people's responses to number 23 as well :)
    Flame away ....!

  • Comment number 28.

    This story shows the truth behind the three-strikes plan.

    Step one: Copywrite some meaningless noise made by banging 2 rocks together.
    Step two: Using a little basic IP knowledge, create a list of IP addresses on a spreadsheet.
    Step three: Find a lawyer and agree some profit-sharing.
    Step four: Laywer goes to court with spreadsheet of addresses and persuades judge that a sophisticated monitoring tool has captured these addresses sharing said banging of rocks.
    Step five: Judge orders ISP to hand over details of said sharers.
    Step six: Lawyer sends out letter making accusations and demands payment of £500+ or risk being disconnected as an alledged file-sharer.
    Step 7: Repeat steps three to six until accused pays up rather than risk disconnection
    Step eight: Repeat whole process until bank balance reaches desired level.

    Now, where are my two rocks?

  • Comment number 29.

    Of course, it's not the small, struggling musicians who'll be able to afford to let slip the dogs of law...

    This isn't about justice for musicians, I fear; it's about making yet more money for wealthy corporations and lawyers.

  • Comment number 30.

    Rory, you forgot to ask the most important question. In fact, you seem to have forgotten the whole reason we have copyright laws in the first place.

    The laws were created to protect artists, not because artists deserve special treatment, but because the rest of us benefit from their output so it's worth putting some system in place to ensure that we don't forget to reward them. The ultimate goal here is not to make musicians rich, but to ensure that the rest of us have access to music, which means we have to pay for it.

    Is the world a better place if there is no incentive for music companies to hype talentless kids? Does the world suffer if the talented kids can now build a following online as well as performing in pubs? Do new bands play in pubs and clubs any more, and if not is that because of file-sharing? When I bought my first album, back in the late 1970s, there was a notice on it telling me that home-taping was killing music. Back then the debate was about music, and music seemed to survive, but today it's all about the survivalof the record companies. What useful function do they perform in society today? Why should we care?

  • Comment number 31.

    Seems to me back in pre-school we were all taught that sharing is the right thing to do. Apparently, the music industry thinks differently.

  • Comment number 32.

    Most copyright in recorded music is not owned by artists, but by recording companies (artists own the copyright of songs, they contract them over to the labels for the recording).
    The bodies against file sharing are the recording industry through Pub Assoc, Fed Against Copyright Theft, BPI and many publishers (Universal, Sony EMI...)
    Artists want new and better ways to sell music on line, but this is not being done by music publishers! That's the problem.

    Publishers want to keep the old business models, controlling the means of distribution, i.e. CDs, not create new ones. They also are insidiously clobbering all high qualtiy music distribution with DRM (SACD, DVD-Audio, Blu-ray...) in order to hold on yet again to the means of distribution. This is where they make their money, and why artists suffer under their control.

    Labels are complaining because people share files - that is because people want them on their PCs/Mobiles not on CDs. Pirate networks attack the very raisin d'etre of the music business. And until the labels change their business models and make available on-line music, not disabled by DRM, in lower MP3 quality AND CD and HD quality the pirates will continue and people will continue to swap files.

  • Comment number 33.

    The argument that music should be free to listen to, share and broadcast is inherantly flawed, if artists have no way of making money out of their career they wont make music.

    I find it disgusting that people are arguing the fact that they feel that, what is basically stealing, is a human right.

    Yes i agree that artists are able to make ample money out of concerts but once you take managers fees, arena fees, insurance etc, there is very little less for the artist especially when the record company is going to use some of the profits to try and promote new artists.

    If an artist wants to go it alone then they can sit with the millions of other unsigned bands on myspace and just keep their fingers crossed that if anybody does happen to stumble on their music, like it and be within a decent travelling distance to go and pay to see their gig do.

    If acess to the internet is a human right does that mean we should all go down to PC world and just expect to walk in and walk out with a pc without paying for it? Should we expect free power to run our computer?
    No... Unfortunatly you have to pay for things you want, because the people that make them will want paying for it so they can pay for the things they want. This is the real world.

  • Comment number 34.

    15. At 2:45pm on 27 Nov 2009, badger_fruit wrote:

    "...if music's given away on a non-profit basis to be made up from live tours, perhaps all those additional people won't be needed in the first place?

    As for your classical example, there's nothing stopping them from touring ;)"

    For music to be given away there has to be someone making it in the first place. Most (certainly not all, but a large chunk) of the artists I know find it hard enough to concentrate on writing songs, let alone having the technical knowledge to record them to a high level. That is where people like me step in, to help them get the most from their ideas and give them a high quality recording, in return for a fee for my knowledge and time.

    There is a lot stopping an orchestra from touring. The logistics for taking a 4 piece rock band on tour are pretty astounding: organising availability of the members, finding venues and accomodation, cost of food, transport, asd well as hiring a crew, extra gear etc. Multiply that by 10 for a reasonable size orchestra and its a hell of a job to organise, a job that will command a sizeable fee.


    16. At 2:49pm on 27 Nov 2009, General_Jack_Ripper wrote:

    "We can't even keep murderers and rapists in jail so what is the chance of thousands of people getting sent down for file-sharing ?"

    Unfortunatly, murderers and rapists don't cost massive companies money, whereas file sharing supposedly does, meaning the probability of rediculously out of proportion sentencing and punishment thanks to pressure from the companies.

  • Comment number 35.

    The problem here is that like it or not, music is so completely accessible by everyone and anyone willing to do a quick search for it. Digital information overload has changed the perceived value of information and there is little firms can do apart from accept that digital data in this age is undervalued.

    However instead of innovation, record companies focus their efforts on protecting the traditional model of selling music. A CD with a booklet was worth a lot more 10 years ago, because the avaliability of this item was relatively scarce and ability to copy more difficult to come by.

    Pricing is also a key issue. Whilst firms are getting closer to the right "formula" for selling music with subscription services such as Spotify, using a renting model, choice has always been an important part of the consumer purchasing process.

    Consumers don't care about which record company owns the rights to records, they simply want the song they are looking for when they want it. If they can't find it, some will inevitably turn to file sharing. Until the music industry unifies itself and offers "the total service", in formats consumers recognize and understand, the fragmentation of music delivery to the consumer will only deter potential sales.

    iTunes has the right idea and a fantastic service, but then there is the issue of who should own the digital content delivery network.

  • Comment number 36.

    I can't wait for illegal sharing activities to be made so difficult it becomes self-defeating to attempt it.

    People who fileshare (freeload) always point to flawed and discredited surveys which say they are also the people who buy the most music - well duh! of course they are, because people who freeload are of the right demographic to be consuming music in other ways - but it doesn't make their illegal actions right, its not to far removed from me stealing a car and then saying - Oh it's all right I've bought a couple of other cars over the past year.

    There is not a single argument in favour of filesharing which stands up to scrutiny.

    I am fully away that every illegally downloaded file isn't a lost sale (in fact it's not even anywhere near) but if sales went up (in a similar way to what has happened in Sweden since Pirate Bay was effectively closed down) then perhaps their would be downward pressure on prices for the law-abiding customers, or their would be new entrants encouraged into the market, leading to ever more innovative business models, like Spotify, Sky Songs, or Nokia Comes With Music. Who knows what could happen and how cheap things could get if more people started paying (even if its only a little bit)

  • Comment number 37.

    6. At 1:52pm on 27 Nov 2009, its-all-gone-wrong wrote:
    " where I can legally download an album of equivalent quality to that of a compact disc, i.e. lossless, at a price that reflects the absence of a physical product and its associated manufacturing, storage and distribution costs i.e. at a price significantly lower than that of a compact disc? Once you’ve solved that little problem people might start to resent the music industry a little less."

    This old chestnut again: "A CD only costs 40 pence to make. Why do I have to pay £10 for it? That's the 'fatcat' record companies ripping you off"

    Ok, for you, and all the others that think music should be 'free' let's go through this one more time:

    Studio hire - equipment (microphones, mixing desks, computers, software)
    Technical maintenance
    Sound engineers
    Recording producer
    Sound editor
    Mastering engineer
    Music copyist
    Session musicians
    Graphic designers
    Booklet editor
    Picture researcher
    Picture reproduction rights
    Mechanical royalties

    = 80-90% of the cost of a CD

    Manufacturing, distribution, storage

    = 10-20% of the cost of a CD

    Still wondering why on-line downloads are not that much cheaper than a physical CD?

    And to all the rest of you: illegal filesharing takes the bread out of the mouths of all those people listed above who earn their living producing high-quality recorded music - so you can steal it.

  • Comment number 38.

    No one seems to raise the point that a mojority of the music downloaded wouldn't have been purchased in the first place. If an avid music lover wants an album, he buys it cos he wants something tangible in his hand. If I download something and I like it, I buy it. If not it's deleted. the music industry would be better looking at it as an opportunity to show off their artists without file sharing a lot of music would not get appreciated. If file sharing disapeared overnight I think there would be drop in sales not a rise.

  • Comment number 39.

    "37. At 7:06pm on 28 Nov 2009, the_fatcat wrote:

    And to all the rest of you: illegal filesharing takes the bread out of the mouths of all those people listed above who earn their living producing high-quality recorded music - so you can steal it."

    Oh yes another person on the side of Mr Geffen and co. who wishes to perpetuate misinformation.

    It is not illegal, it is unlawful, and yes there is a difference, and it is not stealing as nothing tangible has been taken and the record companies still have the master copy which they can go on and sell time and time again.

    It is now coming up to Christmas and we are seeing the usual album-fest, full of regurgitated music that has been doing the rounds for decades, even Queen have released a "best of" album (or more to the point their record label have) to cash in on the time of year.

    Tell me, how many stolen Queen songs have the record companies been deprived of? They certainly don't seem to be missing the ones they've released for the compilation that is being advertised on terrestrial TV.

    When record companies keep pounding out the same old same old year on year is it any wonder people don't wish to pay for it just to make some record label employees even richer?

    And to all those saying that gigs don't generate enough income? Just how much income does one really need?

    I personally earn £15k pa and I could easily live on £20k pa, and I'm fairly sure that even with the costs involved that touring artists can and do make much more than that, so if I were music "talent" I would not be complaining.

    But hey when you've got no talent and rely on other people to do the work for you like many of the manufactured pop "talent" out there I guess touring to make a living might be a bit difficult.

    Filesharing is not all illegal and the likes of Geffen would do well to remember who made them rich, if it wasn't for filesharing and word of mouth many artists wouldn't even see the light of day. A certain L Allen would know that, or at least one would assume they would...

  • Comment number 40.

    While I hate how the big labels are forcing the market to do what they want by un-natural means (in a capitalist sense), I think that the content owner should have the last say on how their creations are distributed. It's truely a doublesided coin. With one side having the labels lobby and use their power to influence governments to restrict progress and development of new methods, and squeeze more money from the consumer. But on the otherside there is no inherent right to own content by any means, especially if you use a means without paying at all.

    There needs to be much more of an exception for people who have already bought content, a DVD for example. We should be allowed to copy it and get replacements. Just because it is cheap mass produced crap, doesn't mean we'll gladly pay for another if it gets scratched. DRM has taken away our ability to easily make a backup incase of an accident.

    Another grey area is the issue of downloading television programmes. Say, for example, you set your DVR to record Match of the Day but for some reason it fails. Is it unlawful to download a copy from Rapidshare? I have done this once. (though I've since ceased to pay for a TV license and am therefore only allowed to view non-live content via catchup services. On which Match of the Day is not shown!)

    Regarding the news item where the lawyers are sending out letters demanding cash otherwise they'll take you to court.. this is disgusting and surely should be illegal. Their evidence gathering methods are unclear and considering the nature of an IP Adress not being an ID for a person, it sounds unlikely that what little evidence they would have without viewing the person's computer is going to be always reliable.

  • Comment number 41.

    I've used file-sharing sites to download music. But it's simply not true to say I haven't paid for it. Most of the music I download is music I already bought on vinyl, back in the 60'sand 70's, then was forced to buy again anyway when CD's replaced vinyl. Most of the stuff I download was never even released on CD in the first place, but has been converted to digital format by other fans. I'm damned if I'm going to pay yet again for the same songs, just so I can listen to them on an mp3 player or my computer. I can't think of any other industry that tries to make us buy the same stuff over and over again. As far as I'm concerned, if I've paid once, I shouldn't have to pay again. Mr Bowie et al is rich enough as it is, and I'm sure won't miss yet another £10 from me.

    What the music industry should be doing is selling us licenses to acquire music, and then letting us use those licenses to acquire the music in whichever formats we choose, an unlimited amount of times to cover future formats. So instead of buying an album for £10, and then being stuck with just that copy, unable to replace it if it gets damaged without having to repurchase it, for my £10 I get a plastic card or digital receipt that entitles me to access that album whenever, wherever, and however I want, in whatever format I want, even if that's vinyl, CD, AND mp3.

    When will they wake up and realise their old business model has died, and there's no point flogging it anymore?

  • Comment number 42.

    I think the whole discussion is being missed here. It shouldn't be down to us or the government to debate how the music industry needs to be reformed, increase their sales revenue or argue between the artist and the corporation over who gets what share of the pie. All thats for the music industry and artists to battle out.

    What is to be argued - and what is the most worrying - is the complete side-stepping of the law courts in accusing and handling alleged file-sharers. Also the pressure and lobbying by the music industry to persuade the government in to irrationally acting by their presented statistics is also quite worrying. Whilst there is no denying file-sharing exists it is wrong to take research figures paid for and presented by the music industry as being wholly accurate. It has been known and admitted by the music industry certain previous research statistics to have been wrong or misconstrued. In fact it is very hard to present accurate sustainable file-sharing figures both on a national and global scale - there are just too many methods and varying technologies to take that data from. I think this is why the government will eventually side-step the issue of how they are going to find that "70%" sweet spot.

    Where this debate should be leading is to the reformation of how copyright law can be policed and maintained over the internet. Who can make the accusations and who can do the policing and sentencing. You only have to look at the mess in US with Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) law. Any individual or company can make an accusation knowing full well it is wrongful without any substantial proof of evidence - guilty until proven innocent in all cases. Just plain wrong.

    It is very worrying to see accusations could lead to a letter with an option to "settle" any wrong doing. This kind of behavior by the media industry to hire companies in recovering this should be feared, condemned and banned. The legal system is not there as a means to make money in the form of exhaustion with the potential for abuse of any law. It is there for rightful justice under the eyes of the established law courts.

    Everyone should be worried about the government (and EU) hastily being rushed in to introducing draconian laws with no real thought to the process or long term technology involved. Being seen to be doing something about copyright law and its control over the internet is just as bad as getting it completely wrong...

  • Comment number 43.

    " This old chestnut again: "A CD only costs 40 pence to make. Why do I have to pay £10 for it? That's the 'fatcat' record companies ripping you off"

    Ok, for you, and all the others that think music should be 'free' let's go through this one more time: "

    You are right on this, to an extent. When I bought the new Muse album, this is perfectly valid. That was brand new, only just made artwork, recording etc, fair enough.

    However, 2 years ago I bought "The Wall" by Pink Floyd. that cost me £20, came with the original artwork much as it appeared in 1980, only in CD format. I think the artist was paid fully long ago, as was Roger Waters and those who actually created that content. In fact, I daresay the only expense there was the manufacturing cost and shipment to HMV. I don't see how that price was justified.

    Or how about soundtrack for movies or games? The complete recordings for The Lord of The Rings goes for about £50 per film soundtrack, IIRC. They already released a 1 CD version when the films came out, and the newer version is basically the film sounds minus the talking/sound effects, bundled onto disc. I'm pretty sure Howard Shore and the London Symphony Orchestra already got paid when the films came out.

  • Comment number 44.

    The politicians didn't just decide to do something about filesharing; 90% of them wouldn't know what it is anyway. Someone/something lobbied them.
    It's just a shame that an equally powerful lobby didn't intervene over the past 30 years when CD's were twice as expensive in the UK as they were in the US, and even there they were overly expensive.
    Over the years, the music industry has ripped me off by a few thousand pounds. Oh, how they squeal when the boot is on the other foot. I have little compunction against stealing from organisations which are themselves thieving. On the other hand, I give generously to outfits that in turn give me a good deal.

  • Comment number 45.

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

  • Comment number 46.

    ...I'd also like to say one more thing. It's estimated that 7 million of us fileshare. Isn't it common sense that if 7 million people in your country are breaking the law, then it's the law that needs to change?

  • Comment number 47.

    My comment was referred to the moderaters? I'd like to know why, seeing as I don't recall breaking any sort of rules your site has. BBC censoring my views, I see. Well done.

  • Comment number 48.


    Well done on using the correct legal terminology - UNLAWFUL. It is not illegal.

    But I see the chap at the BPI and posters #36 (Blue_Blood1) & # 37 (the_fatcat) are still banging out the same old Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt (FUD) about it being a criminal act. It is nothing of the sort.
    For both your benefit, and for the benefit of the chap at the BPI, I will, once again, explain the difference between illegal and unlawful:

    illegal = criminal act being commited, e.g. burglary, murder, fraud. It is an action that contravenes the laws of this country, and where the police will want to get involved...

    unlawful = civil infringement being committed, e.g. breach of contract, like not paying your monthly mobile phone bill, basically where there is nothing in UK statute law that covers it. The police do not get involved in civil disputes, only if it turned into something illegal, and therefore crimninal.
    An unlawful act could turn into a criminal one, for example if you got sued for breach of contract and taken to court, and you did not show up, you would be in contempt of court and an arrest warrant would be issued against you.

    Similarly, downloading/sharing child porn *is* illegal, because this clearly and quite rightly, is a criminal act. So, are the BPI and posters 36 & 37 trying to put filesharers in the same category as internet paedophiles by saying it's illegal? How horrific!

    Downloading say the latest Muse album without the copyright holder's permission is merely breach of copyright. Oh, and this isn't theft, either, despite the FUD that the BPI and posters 36 & 37 would have everyone believe.

    1968 Theft Act:

    'A person shall be guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it.'

    Making an unauthorised copy does not permanently deprive the copyright holder of said product, except if it was one of a kind, like a painting.

    Rory, please spread the word amongst your fellow journalists regarding the use of proper legal terminology and help defeat this FUD that they are spreading so we can all know the proper facts and debate them accordingly.

  • Comment number 49.

    strange that the film "The Dark Knight" earned the title of the the years most pirated movie also earned more than $1 billion USD worldwide.

    Then there is the new movie "Ink" Over the other weekend the movie was “ripped off” and uploaded to several BitTorrent tracker sites. While knowing that it would happen eventually, what they didn’t expect was the speed with which the movie would “blow up” afterwards. It’s currently riding high on IMDb’s movie meter and one of the top 20 most popular movies in the world.

    Ink’s writer and director are both pleased with the turn of events. Though obviously not “excited that people are seeing the film without paying” they are definitely enjoying the “enormous amount of exposure” that availability on BitTorrent has given them.

    So much so that they sent an email to those involved in the project, acknowledging what happened, and also emphasizing their happiness with how piracy has given them “unprecedented exposure.”

  • Comment number 50.

    StargateHitchHiker: thank you very much for that, I will save your comment for later reference. Very informitive :)

  • Comment number 51.

    48. At 12:00pm on 29 Nov 2009, StargateHitchHiker wrote:

    Well done on using the correct legal terminology - UNLAWFUL. It is not illegal.

    But I see the chap at the BPI and posters #36 (Blue_Blood1) & # 37 (the_fatcat) are still banging out the same old Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt (FUD) about it being a criminal act. It is nothing of the sort.
    For both your benefit, and for the benefit of the chap at the BPI, I will, once again, explain the difference between illegal and unlawful:"

    OK - unauthorised filesharing of copyright material, per se, may be "unlawful", but as you are obviously intent on expounding the letter of the law to defend these 'unlawful acts', you would also know that theft of intellectual property and copyright infringement is a criminal offence in the UK under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Those who carry out the primary extraction of copyright material (eg ripping a CD) and then placing it in the public domain (eg uploading to a torrent server) would be caught under this legislation.

  • Comment number 52.

    46. At 11:25am on 29 Nov 2009, G5airplane wrote:
    "...I'd also like to say one more thing. It's estimated that 7 million of us fileshare. Isn't it common sense that if 7 million people in your country are breaking the law, then it's the law that needs to change?"

    Er, no, it's education which needs to change - and drastically, starting at primary school. You learn from a very early age that you can't walk into HMV and just take a CD or DVD that you'd 'like to have' without paying for it, so why should you expect to get the music contained on that CD, or the film on that DVD, without paying for it?

    You obviously want the actual music contained on the CD, or the actual film contained on the DVD, otherwise you'd be happy with a completely blank CD or DVD, wouldn't you? No? Well then, you are now on the first step to understanding it's the music or film which has the intrinsic value - and you need to pay to enjoy that value.

  • Comment number 53.

    @the_fatcat - as I tried to say in my censored comment, the new generation no longer sees music as something you buy, and it is therefore a culture change. It's revolution and it won't stop with any amount of government primary school brainwashing. Just look at how well the Pirate Party is doing! How much better do you think they'll do in a few years when today's teenagers turn 18? They'll certainly get some sort of power in the UK within the next 10 years, garantueed! In fact, they already have two seats in the EU Parliement! You can't just dismiss this as something that can be fixed with "education" (read: propaganda)

  • Comment number 54.

    So Geoff Taylor from the BPI repeatedly quotes research funded by the BPI and carried out by Jupiter research.

    Read this

    and now do you believe anything else Geoff Taylor from the BPI is telling you.

  • Comment number 55.

    The recorded music industry is a business like any other, they have a product, recorded music, which is assembled from the raw materials, the lyrics and music using the resources of the list that the_fatcat pointed out.

    Studio hire - equipment (microphones, mixing desks, computers, software), Technical maintenance, Sound engineers, Recording producer, Sound editor, Mastering engineer, Music copyist, Session musicians, Photographer, Graphic designers, Booklet editor, Picture researcher, Picture reproduction rights, Mechanical royalties, Marketing advertising, Promotion and no doubt many more.

    Recorded music is a product and it is for sale (with restrictions) from an outlet near you.

    So why do the BBC, through the royalties system, have to pay to advertise music industry products.

    Anybody who wants to advertise their product has to utilise the services of the professions listed above and also has to pay for airtime, what makes the recorded music industry so different ?

    Why doesn't the recorded music industry have to pay commercial radio stations to broadcast their product when they know that by being broadcast it will stimulate sales of their records ?

  • Comment number 56.

    Before the flaming starts, let me point out that I do not agree with unlawful copying and downloading of music industry products.
    It is counterfeiting in the same way as if I copy and make available shoes designed by Jimmy Choo.
    It is wrong both lawfully and morally.

    I do have some (small) sympathy with people who copy obscure/unobtainable material.

    Why don't the record companies make available their entire back catalogue of CDs as paid for downloadable singles (individually priced) from as many outlets as they can including their own, amazon, itunes etc.

    That the recorded music industry would rather use their large lobbying influence to implement laws that would affect all uk internet users (not just pirates) in order to secure their own narrow vested interests is morally wrong and should not be allowed.

  • Comment number 57.

    Some people here seem to think that it is their right to have the music they want for free. How on earth do they come to that conclusion. If someone creates something and decides to sell it, then they should be protected by law to allow them to do so. It doesn't matter how much it costs to make or how much profit is made, market forces will determine if they have priced it correctly. As other posters have said, not paying for these products is morally wrong whichever way you look at it.

    It is however this last point where many record companies need to ponder. They are obviously getting it wrong and they need to look at the cost of the products they are producing. You will NEVER stop people from copying music and video, the problem is too far gone for that. They need instead to concentrate on making their products more attractive and easy to buy. The record companies had the chance when the internet became popular to change their model, embrace the technology and make money out of it. They didn't because they were scared of it and did not understand it. Instead they fought against it and lost, yet they are still fighting against it. They will not win their war with these tactics.

    Also I will reiterate a point I have made on many of these discussions. Files sharing itself is neither illegal or unlawful. Sharing copyrighted material IS unlawful. File sharing is a very important method of legitimately distributing electronic media. It is a point of semantics, but the quotes in the article mention File Sharing as being a problem, when they should be saying 'unauthorised file sharing'.

  • Comment number 58.

    Some random thoughts,

    - It really does not matter if it is illegal or unlawful. Downloading music from illicit sources and burning your own CDs is kind of opportunistic.

    - The problem with multiple supports is that the cost of upgrading is set on the costumer, and not on the provider. This problem has not been addressed correctly, and it is one of the factors contributing to music downloads, and rightly so, IMO.

    - However: If you lose your favorite book, you have to buy a new one. So it is not clear why I should own the music inside a CD and not the text of a book.

    - For a long time, too many artists have been living off their art. If there is a saturation in the market, they should compete. And no, I do not feel pity for a starting musician that cannot make his/her own living, or at least no more than for a would-be interior decorator, locksmith or programmer or a frustrated writer. Life is hard for many of us, and we all have to cope with it.

    - The problem of a rising group is not so much the illegal downloading as the re-re-releasing by record labels of greatest hits of classic bands. If you have a problem selling records, talk to Queen (or the record label).

    - The arguments of record labels are ludicrous. Their research methods are questionable and their results are a conflict of interest in themselves. But hey, that's what lobbies are for, aren't they? Save the wolves - the wolf said.

    - The best answer to sue threats from record labels are legal firms specialized in suing record labels for damages. The use of file sharing does not imply illegal downloading (BitTorrent or similar are components of some Linux distros).

    - Creating music must be a pain, so it shouldn't be free. But please, don't blame me if I don't buy it.

    - Still, many classic composers didn't benefit from royalties and still they managed to live on their music. Some were even still remembered five years after they stop composing.

    Probably I've made many friends today.

  • Comment number 59.

  • Comment number 60.

    The_fatcat post 37

    May I suggest you carry out a bit of research before posting because you figures couldn’t be further from the truth, what do the say about 90% of statistics?

    Please see

    The cost of a £12.99 CD to the record label after manufacturing is £3.86 in this instance, everything after that is a royalty or profit margin for one of the many organisations that handles it on its way to the shop, all of which do not existing for the online business model.

    So why are downloads so expensive, for what is essentially an inferior product.

    And to clarify I wasn’t advocating file sharing, my post was taking issue with the record company’s failure to tackle file sharing with a viable alternative instead of trying to maintain their existing archaic business model.

  • Comment number 61.

    "Some people here seem to think that it is their right to have the music they want for free."

    Some people also think that software for your computer should be free, see FOSS (Free and open source software) and that is gathering support, somehow. How is this different??

  • Comment number 62.

    At least KingDouglasD understands about how the music industry works. I have worked with a number of small independent labels and they are far from being fat cats. In one case paying back the artists 100% from their online sales, so the record company were not getting anything out of that. The stores took some money off from the sales price for admin/service charge but all the rest of the money went to the artist, and it was like what, 60p or something. Don't think anyone is going to get rich quick from that kind of money.

    It is all about promotion promotion promotion, and that is harder than it looks as people think you can get thousands of fans on MySpace and it will all be plain sailing. KingDouglasD has it right when it comes to gigs. And getting press and radio play where it counts is usually a question of knowing the right people, and to hit that spot you have to pay a decent quality plugger, another thing which artists expect the label to be paying for, but of course it has to be paid upfront of the campaign before any CDs have even hit the shelves (real or virtual). If a band hasn't had much radio play then stores like HMV etc. won't even be interested in taking any physical CDs. If a label is taking 20% from an artist's sales they will not even cover the costs of making the recording in all honesty, and something that sounds like it was recorded in your bedroom will not get anywhere as there is so much competition out there.

  • Comment number 63.

    Blue_Blood1 wrote:
    "its not to far removed from me stealing a car and then saying - Oh it's all right I've bought a couple of other cars over the past year."

    This one again...

    Filesharing is nothing like what you are describing above, simply because filesharing is not stealing as stealing involves depriving the owner of their property.
    Now, if you could make a copy of my car that is identical in every way but still leaves me with my original car in its original condition then that would be a suitable analogy.

  • Comment number 64.

    The biggest point is that file-sharing (both legal and unlawful) is here to stay. If there are laws passed actually making it illegal all that will happen is it will just become harder to trace as more advanced methods are used. The industry needs to change in order to keep pace with this or it will be left behind. Most of the new artists that you hear off (and certainly a lot that I know and like), are for file sharing as it does spread their name alot more and more sales come because of it, that they otherwise wouldn't of got. The industry needs to understand that you can now get a professional recording done in your own house, for less than £2000 if you want some decent software and that is nothing in relative terms. If you then charge people you know to record and get it produced and mastered by you as well (say a £100 for 5 songs) then you make your money back easily.

    Bottomline is, the business has changed. Filesharing cannot be stopped.

  • Comment number 65.


    Your basic argument comes down to the semantics... Whatever if you take something which has a price and should be paid for in some way by either a one off fee, a subscription or just ad-supported then it just plain isn't right.

    Reciting dictionary definitions or quoting text from 1968 ad-verbatum is largely irrelevant - if it isn't right, then its wrong - so pay up, and stop either freeloading or justifying the freeloading actions of others by picking holes in stuff.

  • Comment number 66.

    @blue blood1 - what's the matter? Can't come up with a coherent argument for your case in the face of overwhelming support for filesharing so you stoop to calling filesharers freeloaders?

    Let me ask you this - who is more of a freeloader - a filesharer who downloads music and then, as proper unbiased research would seem to indicate, goes and also spends money on music?

    Or the record label execs who get rich by exploiting "talent" and not paying them their dues, which is largely the case in the industry?

    The music industry have no case, filesharing helps the industry more than it hinders it and the days of the record companies creaming profit off the top to make themselves rich is coming to an end.

    It's called progress, just in the same way that music was once free (many centuries ago before capitalist greed took hold) it is becoming so again.

    Deal with it.

  • Comment number 67.

    LOL, I just love this. Trying to point out the proper legal niceties gets me flamed as a 'freeloader' you chaps ought to see my (our) CD collection....

    Would love to stop and chat more, but I've got a truly awesome bass riff to finish off writing.... ;)

    And if only you knew... ;)

  • Comment number 68.

    61. At 09:40am on 30 Nov 2009, Virtual_Doctor wrote:

    "Some people here seem to think that it is their right to have the music they want for free."

    Some people also think that software for your computer should be free, see FOSS (Free and open source software) and that is gathering support, somehow. How is this different??


    It IS different because the people writing Open Source software have decided that they want their software to be free and open source, so it is released under a public license. A musician releasing a CD (generally, although there is free "open source" music out there) hasn't made the decision to release their music for free, someone with a CD ripper and an internet connection has decided to release it for free for them.

  • Comment number 69.

    Looked at Sky songs at the weekend, streaming at 48Kbps, mmm even with decent codecs can that be any good. Radio1 is at 128Kbps and is okay.

    The MP3 files on offer, 192 to 256Kbps bit rates, i.e. lower than Amazon in many cases. My hearing is not brilliant, but on a reasonable system you can start to notice the differences, or is the mastering of some recordings bad?

    Why not offer people the choice of bit rates? Storage is cheap and music files are small compared to the HD video offered on the PS3 now.

    Times change, jobs for life do not exist any more, and many artists know this, but do the record execs know this?

  • Comment number 70.

    Hope I am not repeating something that has already been written, unfortunately I have no time to read all the comments now...

    Anyway, as far as my knowledge and experience of music goes, I think that while legal streaming services are great and very welcome and useful, they won't completely replace illegal file sharing anytime soon.
    Their catalogues include only music from the labels with which they have deals (usually, the majors), while part of the sharing culture, instead, is based on enjoying very niche tracks, songs, live recordings...

    Open the streaming to every recording available and people will not be bothered to do anything illegal, and won't even be that much annoyed by some (decent... it's another listening experience and should not be overlooked!) adverts in between music.
    Keep the top 100 in loop (ok, maybe is the top 1million, but still, no long tail...), and most of the core listeners of music will search for their daily dose elsewhere...

    PS Thanks a lot for the every time more interesting insights and posts.

  • Comment number 71.

    The music and other industries whinging about file shareing have to get over it and see it as free advertising. The have NO right at all to payment for something of no cost to reproduce, files. Books will follow soon with e-readers, good. Get over it get a new scam to make money out of mere minstrels and players one off work. There is NO reason these mere minstrels and players or storytellers should be well paid let alone rich. Do not want to be copied for free do not record, simple. Work for a living instead. Copyright will only ever be acceptable when street sweepers get paid serially for their work done in the last 100 years.

    Game is over. Just seeing the death thrashings of a past age.

  • Comment number 72.

    What would we lose if the music industry died? Nothing.

    People would still make and sell music.

    I therefore fail to see why I should care if the industry loses money. Last I checked the artists who stand to lose the most aren't being forced to live in cardboard boxes under bridges because people with far less money than them want to listen to their music but perhaps don't have the money to do so as much as they'd like.

    I myself do not steal music (although I have in the past, mostly back in the Napster days), but I certainly couldn't afford to buy as much music as I'd like to. Meanwhile, talentless autotune-reliant pretty faces swan around in limosines and snort various expensive drugs straight out of the pockets of their fans.

    I have so much sympathy, honestly. Those poor rich people. How do they cope.

  • Comment number 73.

    @ravenmorpheus2k & @StargateHitchHiker

    Unlawful/Illegal Filesharers/Freeloaders

    Just because you are more 'wordy' that I, it doesn't make you, or your viewpoint right, whether thats legally or morally. If your only defence is twisting the spirit of the laws, and trying to pick holes in them by resorting to semantics, then I can't really see you have an argument worthy of debate. Again you point to research that freeloaders buy more music... well of course they do, they are more likely to be of a music buying age, but like I say just because I've purchased 3 cars over the past two years it doesn't give me the right to walk up to a dealership and take one does it? Or I've been buying groceries every week for years, perhaps I should just take some next time?

    Taking something which isn't yours, which has a price and therefore should be paid for is theft, or if it suits your agenda... copyright infringement.

  • Comment number 74.

    @71 "Books will follow soon with e-readers, good"

    Really? Music I can understand; singing artists for example are pretty well paid and earn a huge amount of money for, let's be honest, doing something we can all do in the bath to varying degrees of skill.

    Authors on the other hand earn something like 10% of the monetary gain of their creative product, spending in some cases many thousands of hours effort on that product. The publishing house then prints it and takes the majority of the cash.

    How exactly is it justifiable in this case to steal the little income that authors do get from their work? Granted some authors earn a -lot- more, but that's just because they're popular and well-known and therefore the publishers can't slap them around as easily.

    Being a "mere storyteller" myself and having spent, oh, I don't know, 20 years on working towards becoming the published variety, I find your suggestion that 20 years of study and hard work is somehow not "work" because it doesn't involve manual labour.

    I can understand the point that music is over-inflated with cash and not really at all about music anyway anymore - but with writing it's a whole other kettle of fish.

  • Comment number 75.

    'Being a "mere storyteller" myself and having spent, oh, I don't know, 20 years on working towards becoming the published variety, I find your suggestion that 20 years of study and hard work is somehow not "work" because it doesn't involve manual labour.'

    I forgot the word "absurd". Just sliiiide it on in there...

  • Comment number 76.

    When I started buying music, I hate to admit this, but it was 78's which were quickly superceded by vinyl 45's and LP's, then we got cassettes and then CD's and now we have DVD's BluRay MP3's and the like. During this entire process do I ever recall a Music company saying "well of course when you bought the LP you paid for intellectual content and if you bring back the LP we will give you a large discount of the cassette CD whatever."
    At this point I can see you all rolling about laughing. Did they ever do this? Of course not, they just continued to rob us blind.

    I will quote Terry Pratchett on the subject of music industry companies

    "One reason for the bustle was that over large parts of the continent other people preferred to make money without working at all, and since the Disc had yet to develop a music recording industry they were forced to fall back into older, more traditional forms of banditry."

    At this moment our elected representatives should be making best use of an opportunity to redress the balance between us the poor consumer and the the voracious sharks of the music and film industries. After all we do elect them to look after our interests and not that of the music/film industry.

    I would suggest firstly a licensing scheme where with each down load we get a unique code for that purchase which can then be used to re download should a title be damaged. This license should also apply to DVD's and CD's once you have bought the intellectual property why should you have to buy it again? Secondly an EU investigation into the whole Music and Film industry cost structure to ascertain just what a fair profit and a fair price is on a download. This is because I and probably everyone reading this think I'm being, as usual, ripped off.

  • Comment number 77.

    74. At 6:27pm on 02 Dec 2009, Auqakuh

    First of all it is inevitable it will hit books once e-readers become the new Ipod. Like music you will have to change how, if at all, you get money for it. Simplest will be to return to storytelling, verbally, as music performs in pubs and the like, and story tellers of old worked for a meal.

    It is not about manual work, but the end of payments for ever for one bit of work, exploiting technology in order to sell it again and again and again. While the copies could only be mass produced it opened up new huge exploitation, printed copies were cheaper than typing out yourself and binding. No longer. The world will change, either work with it or die out. Just as printers put out of work hand copyists and illuminators. Now this change may hit the authors too, so their works will be downgraded to hobbyist. Centuries of out of print work will be free too, has to be good overall. Copyright personal monopoly principle is dead. Created by technology and destroyed by newer technology. Had a good run for our money, but the game is on the way out.

  • Comment number 78.

    Greed will always lead to failure. The "music industry", as that is what we have been trained to call the big music corporations, appear to be exceptionally greedy.

    They say we are stealing if we copy their intellectual property, and that when we purchase a cd we are merely licensing their intellectual property. However, if we break that cd, or need it in another format, we need to pay again. So sometimes its a physical purchase and sometimes its intellectual property.

    The greed is on display when it comes to legal mp3's. I would buy more music from Itunes if I could re-download it later, because I don't like spending a lot of money on music only to lose it all in a hard drive crash. But it would appear the music industry have purposefully stopped that from happening. I'm pretty sure it's not Apple's decision, since they let me re-download apps for my iphone if I lose them. And Amazon are wonderful with their Kindle books, letting me have another copy whenever I require it. But both these companies don't offer that with music. Obviously the music industry don't want us to have the ability to re-download. They want us to purchase the same license over and over again.

    Mention is never made in these arguments of the other streams of income the music industry gets. Every business who plays music the public can hear has to pay 2 different sets of royalties, even if its just their employees listening to the radio. Everytime a song is heard on an ad, tv show or movie a royalty is paid. These days even when a song is played on internet radio stations a royalty is paid. For a business, who wants to play music, they have to pay a royalty for the song writing, as well as a royalty for the performance of the music. However, it is still expressly stated that they cannot obtain that music in any other manner than buying the personal license (ie buying a cd or mp3).

    And what makes the music industry so special that it has been given laws which allow it to keep making money off the same product. If a beautiful dining room table is made, it can be sold only once. If a chef creates a great meal, he must recreate it every time he wants to sell it. If a doctor performs brilliant surgery on you he must do it again every time he wants to be paid, but write a great song and whoever owns it gets to make money off it over and over and over again, often long after the songwriter is dead.

    There is no question that music is a commodity that must be paid for. There is no question that artists should be rewarded for their work. But there is also no question that if someone is being greedy, everyone else will feel comfortable taking from them. And the music industry has shown over and over again that they are fundamentally greedy.

    Of course, by far their biggest greed has to be in their ruthless lack of artistic credibility in an artistic field. They simply destroy music to make money, and to that end I am happy to do whatever I can to destroy the music industry, because when the giant music industry is destroyed, all we will have left are musicians. And they are the good bit.

  • Comment number 79.

    Until the major record labels provide downloads in lossless format that reflect the cost of production of the music and can demonstrate that the artists and engineers are paid a fair sum, I won't buy any of their products.

    That said I do buy physical copies of CDs released by small artists on independent labels. I would tolerate a higher price for albums from indie labels, but the truth is that despite the greater overheads of being a smaller business, small artists seem to release albums that are no different in price to those released by huge labels.

  • Comment number 80.

    One thing that very few people have mentioned is that the whole concept of residual income is flawed and fundamentally unfair. I believe that this is why many people feel no guilt about "stealing" from people who they feel are getting more favourably treated than they are.

    I go to work in the morning and I get paid for that day's work. If I want to get paid again I have to go in the next day, and the next and so on.

    My boss isn't going to pay me forever just because I worked on Tuesday three years ago so why should we pay somebody today for a few days work they did back in 1983?


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