A survey of more than 600 computer-savvy music fans by the British music research firm The Leading Question shows that those who regularly download or share copyrighted music without permission also spend an average of £5.52 a month on legal downloads, while those who don’t illegally fileshare spent just £1.27 a month on digital tracks – a difference of almost 450%.
“The 2005 Speakerbox research shows that music fans who break piracy laws are highly valuable customers,” said Leading Question director Paul Brindley. “There’s a myth that all illegal downloaders are mercenaries hell-bent on breaking the law in pursuit of free music. In reality they are often hardcore fans who are extremely enthusiastic about adopting paid-for services as long as they are suitably compelling.”
In the first half of 2005, 10 million songs were legally downloaded in the UK, more than double the number bought in 2004. 158 million songs were downloaded legally in the US in the first half of ’05. International Federation of Phonographic Industries figures show legal tracks downloaded internationally tripled to 180 million in the first half of the year, while the volume of tracks being traded illegally rose only 3% to 900 million
British Phonographic Industry (BPI) spokesman Matt Phillips said, “It’s encouraging that many illegal file sharers are starting to use legal services. But our concern is that file sharers’ expenditure on music overall is down, a fact borne out by study after study. While a third of illegal file sharers may buy more music, around two-thirds buy less, and that two-thirds tends to include people who were the heaviest buyers. That’s why we need to continue our carrot and stick approach to the problem of illegal filesharing.”
The Leading Question survey found that a third of those surveyed planned to buy a dedicated MP3 player, while just 8% said they would be buying an MP3-enabled phone in the next year.
The US Supreme Court dealt filesharing in the former Colonies a substantial blow last month when it ruled against the Grokster P2P service, saying “One who distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright, as shown by clear expression or other affirmative steps taken to foster infringement, going beyond mere distribution with knowledge of third-party action, is liable for the resulting acts of infringement by third parties using the device, regardless of the device’s lawful uses.”