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52% of songs on MP3 players are legal
Wednesday 18 June 2008 10:33:12 by Andrew Ferguson

The biggest change that a switch to digital media has meant is the ability for people to carry whole music libraries around, and copy material between devices in a few minutes rather than waiting on hour for a C60 tape to copy on a double deck tape recorder.

The Times has published some interesting data on the extent of music copying among young people. Most knee jerk responses to date have centered on peer to peer networks, but copying a friends CD, sharing tracks via e-mail or simply copying it off their computer are very common. For the age range 18 to 24, some 96% admitted to some form of illegal copying, dropping to 89% for 14 to 17 year old, roughly two thirds copy CDs from friends.

While the survey reveals an average of 1,770 songs on MP3 players, with some 48% of these breaking the copyright laws. Interestingly the 14 to 17 age group had some 61% tracks that they did not have the rights to use. A big question that is left unanswered is whether people listen to the illegal music as much as stuff they've bought, a great deal of the tracks may be where someone has purchased the hit tracks from a music download service and then copied the rest of an album from a friends CD collection.

"I was one of those people who went around the back of the bike shed with songs I had taped off the radio the night before. But this totally dwarfs that, and anything we expected...

The positive message is that 80 per cent of downloaders said they would pay for a legal subscription-based service, and they told us they would be willing to pay more than a few pounds a month."

Fergal Sharkey, chief executive of British Music Rights

It is interesting to see that some 80% of people suggest that they would pay for a legal subscription based service. The big problem with these services is that you are locking yourself into a product, meaning that if you miss a monthly subscription payment all the music you have downloaded may expire. A hybrid service, whereby a subscription of for example £8.99 gives you access to a wide range of music for download, and ten tracks a month that can be downloaded as permanent files so that even if you cease the subscription you can keep the favourites in your music collection may be one way that music download services could evolve.

The music and film/video industry would love to be able to put a stop to the copying that goes on, but for the music industry in particular its target audience of teenagers and young people may not have the disposable income to actually go out and buy more content. So current moves like the BPI/Virgin Media alliance may reduce the amount of copying that goes on, but produce little extra income to the music industry.


Posted by keith_thfc over 8 years ago
"The music and film/video industry would love to be able to put a stop to the copying that goes on"

Then why don't they start charging a decent price for non-DRM downloads instead of fleecing us at the same price it costs to get a CD?

Posted by jrawle over 8 years ago
@keith_thfc: CDs cost pence to manufacture. The truth is, people have been fleeced for years. It's only now, when they are not receiving anything physical for their money, that they are realising it.

What the music industry have never proved is that people with "illegal" tracks would have bought them if they couldn't obtain them for free. I bet in most cases they wouldn't. P2P downloads just increase the artists' audience. The remaining cases' loss in revenue is surely compensated for by people who discover new music and buy more by the same performer?
Posted by keith_thfc over 8 years ago

CD may cost pence to manufacture but there are also costs involved in the packaging and distributing/replenishing to stores, not to mention the overheads the stores have to absorb which is also factored into the price.

None of this applies online.
Posted by paddyclark over 8 years ago
Fergal Sharkey? Is that the "Fergal Sharkey" I sense an undertone....
Posted by chrysalis over 8 years ago
p2p may well benefit artists as it gives them exposure which probably boosts concerts etc. whilst most revenue from shop sales goes to the labels.
Posted by imbsuk over 8 years ago
Let's be clear p2p boosts sales of quality music as people have more ability to discover new music. Where as the RIAA and their ilk used to dictate what music we should all listen to. It's curious that in general pop music has risen in quality substantially in the last 5 years. It was not so long ago that the likes of Steps used to be played on the radio and liked by all!
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
QUOTE"Then why don't they start charging a decent price for non-DRM downloads instead of fleecing us at the same price it costs to get a CD?"

Couldnt had said it better myself. I will never pay for any download service which is DRM ladden. Why should any one pay lets say £10 a month for a service, maybe only download 1 album or a handful of singles that month, choose not to re-sub the following month and then find the music is useless and cant be played?? You may as well of bought the album on CD in the first place the likes of the BPI need to wake up.
Posted by airds over 8 years ago
And what about the price differential - 99¢ v 79p - between the U.S and U.K. downloads if your daft enough to use iTunes, Fergal?
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
quote"And what about the price differential - 99¢ v 79p - between the U.S and U.K."
Thats another thing that gets up peoples noses, its not so much the price to me personally but the way the BPI went after the likes of cdwow for selling legal import cds and the way the movie industry try to make films you import as difficult to play as possible in a different country. They must be one of the most hitler like organisations on the planet, still we all know what happened to him when he couldnt obtain world domination ;) They need to wake up and use technology rather than fight it
Posted by herdwick over 8 years ago
Godwin's law strikes again !

P2P is by and for freeloaders, so save us all the "Let's be clear p2p boosts sales of quality music" nonsense.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
If P2P in any way doesnt help the industry herdwick would you mind explaining how and why i enjoy watching certain TV series on the likes of iplayer but also have gone out and purchased them on dvd? If people are as you put it such "freeloaders" why do they also go and buy material then huh?
Posted by scragglymonk over 8 years ago
Tend to get free music from, if never borrowed music from friends or listened to alternative music, would still be into Iron Maiden and not the goa trance I prefer now. Used p2p to try out music and then gone onto buy the albums, no p2p and doubt would have known about the artists

Some movies can be poor quality, but often buy the original when it eventually comes out on dvd, same thing is that not getting stuff on preview and less chance of buying originals ?
Posted by Dawn_Falcon over 8 years ago
herdwick - Baen Books.

Oh sorry, does it demolish your house of cards?
Posted by imbsuk over 8 years ago
herdwick That's the kind of black and white attitude I'd expect from the RIAA. It's simply not true. There's no denying that p2p has a lot of freeloaders but a lot of users also use it to discover new music and end up making a purchase. I personally regularly buy music. I actually consider p2p quite similar to the radio in the sense that it's merely a medium, a method of discovering new music.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
Its also clear its not as black and white as the music and movie industry would like you to believe... The most important things to a TV network are viewer ratings, so if it was black and white offering services like iplayer and 4OD make no sense.

The whole idea of the net right from the beginning was to share... be it thoughts, information or data, if people have something against that so much maybe they should get of the internet entirely.
Posted by evilbond over 8 years ago
As said above P2P is a means of discovering new music, i wouldnt have heard of alot of american bands if it wasnt for it and went on to buy their cd's.

I also refuse to buy music online with all this DRM stuff, I'd rather do without and listen to the millions of radio channels that are now online or music channels on sky or DAB radio when on the move. I want to do what i want with music i purchased and own, if i cant do that i wont buy it. RIAA etc's loss not mine so they should learn to live with it or adapt to what people really want.
Posted by absent over 8 years ago
"48% of these breaking the copyright laws". I would think that's pretty good progress since when mp3 players were first launched 100% of them were breaking the copyright laws.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
The music industry wont be happy until we all return to records and wind up gramophones.

Technology to them is poison... well that is until they use digital methods online and on dvds and music to say piracy is bad, then they whole heartedly approve of it
Posted by mattwhiting over 8 years ago
herdwick is quite wrong, as argued eloquently and repeatedly above. I am currently listening to a band whose CDs I would never have gone out and bought had I not heard them via P2P in the first instance. They are worth listening to, so I consider their physical media worth paying for; I don't see myself as in any way unique in that respect.

To reiterate: I buy more music now than I ever did before P2P empowered the consumer with 'try before you buy'. And I will cease buying should the RIAA/BPI put a stop to this empowerment.

Posted by tiggerrmummy over 8 years ago
Even if no one can agree on whether p2p downloading, legal or illegal is right or wrong, one thing it has done is brought down the price of music as a whole and made it more accessible. Whatever the music producers say they havent really lost out, its swings and roundabouts and everyone has won to some degree, the artists because their music hits a wider audience, the record companies because of the instant publicity and recognition the internet now provides, and the buying public because we have such a massive library of music to choose from.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
quote"herdwick is quite wrong...."

Any new news?
Posted by fiish over 8 years ago
I agree with mattwhiting. I don't deny having downloaded music through P2P, but the last 6 CD albums I have bought were because I decided the music I downloaded was good enough to warrant spending money on it (and getting a better quality recording).

P2P has been good for the music industry - it has increased the consumers' exposure to new music, opening up opportunities for *more* sales.
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