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The recording industry has been whining forever about the effects of unlawful downloads and P2P networks on their bottom-line.
This kind of piracy, we're told, is costing squillions of dollars a year in lost revenues and is disadvantaging poor, hard-working musicians.
[stops to wipe a tear from his eye]
But seriously, it is true. People are illegally copying and redistributing copyrighted music and that is not a good thing - regardless of the fact that organisations such as the RIAA are hardly currying favour with the general population.
However, reports published today would seem to indicate that piracy performed over the Net is trifling when compared to other illegal copying.
This story from ITWorld quotes a study from the NPD research group that clearly shows P2P file-trading accounts for just 15% of all music acquisitions -- far less than the combined total of 46% which is scored by ripping disks or direct copying from someone else's hard/Flash drive.
This study also shows that despite the claims being made against MegaUpload, "digital lockers" accounted for just 3% of music acquisitions in 2010 and 4% in 2011.
It strikes me that if the recording industry really wants to crack down on unlawful copying then they ought to lobby politicians to ban hard drives, flash drives, and CD readers -- after all, the losses due to non-Net-based copying are treble those from P2P downloads.
What is also interesting from that study is that store-bought CDs are holding their ground, albeit at only 16% of the market, while paid digital downloads are increasing in value.
I'm wondering just how long before the recording industry decides to dump CDs as a media.
It's more than likely that a great deal of the illegally traded music will have originated from CD rips so in theory, ditching CDs and sticking only with DRM'd digital downloads would make it far more difficult for those who engage in "casual ripping" for friends and family.
The net return would probably be somewhat positive in terms of revenues. Since the volume of music bought on CD is about equal to the volume traded via P2P, it would be a sensible sacrifice -- but only if the RIAA's claims that all those traded tracks represent lost sales.
Looking at these figures, I strongly suspect that it won't be long before the movie and music industries start lobbying politicians for the introduction of media-taxes, like those that are already in place in a number of other countries.
Watch for CDR/RW and DVDR/RW disks to double in price and Flash-drives and hard-drives to be bumped up by 50% by such a tax.
Of course such a tax would not replace prosecutions and fines for breaching copyright - it would only supplement it.
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