Illegal Downloads

28 August 2013

The issue of copyright infringement within the music industry is one that has increased exponentially as the internet and high-speed broadband has boomed. It is now estimated that 28% of all internet users access unauthorised services on a monthly basis.

The study undertaken by music monitoring service MusicMetric which logged the approximate locations of users obtaining music using BitTorrent (a method of getting files by downloading from many users at the same time) makes for interesting reading. The survey revealed that the city with the highest levels of piracy based on downloads per person in the UKis Manchester. Interestingly all of the cities in the top 10 have sizable student populations. The report is interesting for analysing listeners taste according to their geographical location but more importantly indicates that piracy remains the biggest factor undermining the growth of the digital music business.

With the advent of streaming services such as Spotify, there are now more methods than ever before by which music can be downloaded legally however this does not appear to have dampened many internet users enthusiasm to download music illegally or encouraged internet users to legally pay for their music.

The British recording industry does much work both in theUKand internationally to address the issue of copyright infringement head on. This involves educating consumers about the damage copyright infringement causes to the music they listen to, finding collaborative practical solutions such as working with the Government and ISPs to prevent online infringement and tackling piracy as and when it is reported by taking legal action against serious infringing services and facilitators.

However it is arguable that a more stringent from the legislature is now needed.Francehas recently introduced ‘graduated response’ legislation whereby notices are sent to internet subscribers whose accounts have been used to infringe copyright. If a user ignores two notices within 6 months and infringes copyright for the third time in a year, under new legislation the infringer can have their internet account suspended for up to a year and be subject to a 1,500EUR fine. To date 700,000.00 notices have been issued. Since the ‘graduated response’ legislation has been introduced there has been a significant decline in illegal downloads inFrance. In addition French iTunes sales have had a significant uplift. It is estimated that the new legislation is largely responsible for a 25% increase in sales.

It is clear that whilst illegal downloading remains to be seen by internet users as a ‘victimless’ crime and something for which they are unlikely to be punished, the problem will remain. It is clear that piracy affects every part of the music industry from the song writers as owners of the copyright material to employees of record companies.

Perhaps if a similar approach was taken to that ofFrance, public awareness of the issue facing the recording industry would increase which may simultaneously cause the number of illegal downloads to decrease. However, at present the issue of copyright infringement within the recording industry remains a pressing one.

For further information or advice on this subject please contact Mark Cornelius on 01245 228105 at or visit our Trademark and Copyright section.