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BERR consults on file sharing
Monday 28 July 2008 19:31:20 by Andrew Ferguson

People often complain about never having a chance to make their voice heard, and that the massive corporations will be the only ones with a say. Following on from last weeks news of a Memorandum of Understanding that will see broadband providers sending out letters to people who are thought to be sharing material in violation of copyright rules, there is now a chance for broadband providers, rights holders and the public to have some input into the next step of the process.

The Department for Business Enterprise & Regulatory Reform has started a three month consultation period that will finish on 30th October 2008. The consultation period is designed to gather views on what sort of approach can be taken to address the issue of people exchanging copyrighted material without the permission of the rights holder. While the core area mentioned at present is music, areas like films, software and e-books all fall within the scope of any potential legislation.

Already there have been concerns raised on the reliability of the data used by the BPI to identify those uploading copyrighted material without permission and whether targeting peer-to-peer (p2p) systems will see legitimate users getting hold of game patches suffering as providers throttle p2p traffic. The BPI in 2004 and 2005 apparently settled a number of copyright cases out of court, but some did go to court with the courts finding in favour of the BPI, so it would seem they have tested their monitoring systems to a reasonable degree.

The scale of the problem is hard to judge as surveys have produced very varied results, one survey for the BPI suggests 25% of UK internet users have engaged in online music "piracy". A 2007 survey gave a figure of 43% and another suggested 14% has unlawfully copied music. A survey for British Music Rights suggests that among young people 63% have used unlicensed p2p networks, with an average of 53 music tracks downloaded per month (some admitted to downloading up to 5,000 tracks a month).

If this figure of 53 tracks a month is accurate, it looks unlikely that young people will spend £41.87 (53 x £0.79; a typical price of one track) a month on music even if it became impossible to obtain music online from any source other than official outlets. Who knows what the future of the music industry will be--Music festivals and merchandise are certainly big income generators for artists, and just as small independent labels in the past have rocked the music industries ocean liner, we may see a new label with a new model for the online generation emerge from the sidelines.

Comments

Posted by c_j_ over 8 years ago
"an average of 53 music tracks downloaded per month (some admitted to downloading up to 5,000 tracks a month)."

Hmmm. Say the survey spoke to two hundred people, and of those, two total mickeytakers each downloaded 5,000 tracks a month (for which a ~250GB monthly off-peak allowance would be more than adequate), and the other folks basically downloaded none, give or take a bit.

Based on those numbers, the "average" is still fifty(ish) tracks per month.

It doesn't come across in quite the same newsworthy way though does it: "99% of young people aren't pirates, says stunned BPI rep".
Posted by KarlAustin over 8 years ago
Quite, it's all how you play the figures - and as mentioned, they aren't going to have £42/month disposable income to spend on music - but it's that £42/month that the headline "loss" figures are all based on, when in reality it is not a loss of £42/month, because they wouldn't have that to spend. So more like £5/month.
Posted by whatever2 over 8 years ago
i'm guessing that whatever the figures are, they will justify the standpoints of those commissioning it, and their salaries.

As pointed out, they won't want to hear about all the facts that skew their figures, so don't expect questions that enable those answers to be given.
Posted by usenetz over 8 years ago
> £0.79; a typical price of one track
Q.Why does iTunes charge £7.99 for a typical music album when I could buy the CD (physical product manufactured, packaged, and delivered to my door), cheaper from an online store. e.g. current no.1 album, (Coldplay - Viva La Vida), £6.49 from BangCD.
A. Greedy 'legal' music suppliers.

1. Slash the cost of music online and see more sales.
2. Give more of that payment to the artists and see a better justification of cost.
3.Stop threatening your customers/potential customers.
4.Move into the 21st century and implement better pricing models.
Posted by herdwick over 8 years ago
"Thirty-six per cent of Brits questioned in a survey admitted to making illegal copies of DVDs." <http://www.webuser.co.uk/news/263153.html>

Hey usenetz - if you don't like the price just don't buy the product. Simple as that.
Posted by alewis over 8 years ago
Consider the insidious aspect of statements such as these. The use of "unlicensed P2P networks" for example.

Since when have P2P networks required licencing, and by whom? Under what legal authority? Simple answer - it's hookum. There is no such licence. Simply more "spin" from the BPI et al, conditioning the ignorant into thinking P2P networks are illegal. This leads to logical fallacies, e.g. presented in court that as the network was illegal, it follows that any use of it was illegal. How many defence solicitors would contest use of that phrase? How many jurors?
Posted by airds over 8 years ago
Last week, I bought the Beatles Red '62-66 double CD, REM's Greatest Hits and a Talking Heads compliation album for a total of less than £10 delivered. Why bother downloading offical tracks at 79p each? As previously mentioned, it's sheer greed, especially when you compared the price to the identical download from the equivalent U.S sites? £ = $ ??

New album buying is doomed - how many albums have you bought recently and after the catchy 'single'- and if you are lucky one or two other tracks, the rest is dross and just filler?
Posted by imbsuk over 8 years ago
I think one of the reasons that it's priced at 79p is from a marketing perspective; ie it's supposed to appear as a premium product. People aren't stupid, no one wants to throw their money down the drain.
Posted by c_j_ over 8 years ago
"after the catchy 'single' the rest is dross and just filler?"

Indeed. And yet quality back catalogue items, are often impossible to find, till Rhino or whoever pick them up. Travelling Wilburys 1 was selling for ridiculous money 2nd hand, took over a decade to re-release, and despite being premium priced, charted at #1.

Quality sells. Carp doesn't. BPI please note.
Posted by Aqualung over 8 years ago
downloading an mp3 is nowhere near the quality of a cd album,when lossless formats become more readily available i might consider buying online until then i am not going to pay way over the odds for a degraded format.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
I still buy some stuff on Vinyl.
I bet the BPI (AKA Bigoted Piggy Idiots) dont even have make believe figures for people like that. In fact given its clear they have no idea about current day technology i bet mentioning vinyl to them just gets a dazed and confused look.
Posted by ske1fr over 8 years ago
I've checked play.com's listings for my kind of stuff. Of six artists, only one album available by one artist, and I've already bought it on CD for less than the online price for mp3's!

MP3s are not a premium product, they'e mostly low bitrate suitable as samples, to decide whether or not to buy a high bitrate copy. I'm not going to pay 79p a track to listen to the radio.

The BPI and their members are lost. Their model only works in Hoxha-era Albania, but in the modern world, the long tail wags the dog, and there is a whole world of music out there.

Where do you want to live? Albania?
Posted by comnut over 8 years ago
yes, the clueless industry, not just BPI, are just looking for scapegoats, when they should be looking at reducing THEIR paypackets so that people can afford to buy music!!
Posted by TerFar over 8 years ago
I don't want CDs and DVD cluttering up my home. I want quality downloads at a sensible price. At the moment, 79p for low quality crap is a total rip off.
So it is low cost imports (CD-WOW and the like) and then rip them to FLAC or DivX myself.
The industry needs to restructure itself to meet the 21st Century demands or they will die.
As Mrs Thatcher said (like her or not), 'You can't buck the market'. We will win. These companies are only digging a deeper hole to fall into.
My idea of a reasonable download cost would be £2 for a FLAC album and £4 for an HD DivX movie.
Posted by Tropi over 8 years ago
£4 for a movie - interesting.
£11.95 per calendar month rents me two movies at a time, the number per month limited only by speed in returning them for new titles. Realistically, that's 12-16 movies per month at a unit cost of a little to a lot less than £1 per title. Not many are worth viewing more than once, VERY few indeed more than twice.
The arithmetic is persuasively simple.
Posted by Bikermania over 8 years ago
I have to say that anything more than 20p for a rubbish quality download is a rip off. It all goes back to greed by the music companies. I'm a vinyl person and always will be. But if we wanted to tape said album to use in the car then it was illegal and we were expected to buy the album again,this time on tape. Then there was cd and mp3,where if we wanted the benefit of carrying round "x" hundreds of tracks at our disposal,we were again expected to buy it all over again and at a very poor quality recording at that. I've got NO sympathy for the greedy music industry!
Posted by jerrytaff over 8 years ago
P2P mp3 downloads are the modern version of swapping friends albums onto low quality cassette).
We often bought obscure stuff for its swappability value. Having swapped and taped, we had time to listen until the music either grew on us, or we decided it was not for us.
If we liked it, we would save up and buy it. We spentthe same amount, but ended up with a far more eclectic collection. New groups (future big groups) benefited at the expense of the establiushed ones.
P2P is he same. Mp3 is crap quality. If I like it, I buy the CD.
Posted by adiboy429 over 8 years ago
We have had the record companies moaning about illegal recording since the days of tape recorders.
What record companies claim is pure bullshit.It is only lost revenue if people would have spent real cash. Most of the people I know who use p2p sites already spend vast amounts of money on music anyway.
What about the free promos given to retailers & radio/TV stations. Surely this causes loss as well. I remember that more than one company gave singles free to Woolworths to hype them into the charts.

BPI get your own house in order first.
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