A new study, Digital Music Nation 2010 [PDF], published by the British Phonographic Industry (the BPI, essentially their version of the RIAA) says that Britons download four times as many songs illegally as they do legally. That would seem to fly in the face of recent studies we’ve seen that say that as people are exposed to legal digital music alternatives (iTunes, Spotify, etc.) they tend to turn away from illegal music downloads. Again: the only way to truly eliminate music piracy is to ban music altogether. Problem solved, and we can all move on with our lives.
The BPI claims that some 1.2 billion songs were downloaded illegally in 2010, with the Black Eye Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” topping the charts, so to speak.
Unless your name is Alistair Overeem you have no business listening to that song.
In other words, fully three-quarters of songs downloaded in the UK in 2010 were downloaded illegally.
This, despite the fact that there’s more fully legal digital music serves in the UK than anywhere else on the planet.
The study would seem to indicate a sort of resignation at the BPI, saying that “the absence of any effective action to prevent unauthorised downloading has led to this behaviour becoming ingrained as part of everyday leisure activity.”
Or perhaps you could say that it was the absence of legal alternatives in the early 2000s, before music downloading had become “ingrained,” that conditioned people to be cool with illegal downloading, or that perhaps people grew tired of spending $20 on shiny discs when all they wanted was one or two songs, or any number of alternative theories. The music industry had plenty of time to try to co-opt the digital music “revolution,” but instead chose to sue single mothers for untold sums of money because their kid downloaded two Britney Spears songs.
Or maybe, simply, people just don’t care? It’s indie cool to be detached these days.