Music piracy used to be a big deal, but nowadays most pirates don’t even bother.Envisional, which helps companies prevent brand fraud, counterfeiting, and piracy, was recently commissioned by NBC Universal to look at the use of copyrighted material on the Internet.
The company looked at 10,000 files managed by the PublicBT BitTorrent tracker, and found that only 2.9% of them were music. That’s way behind porn videos (35.8%), feature films (35.2%), and TV shows (12.7%). Even generic non-gaming software sparked more interest, with 4.2% of all pirated files.
In other words, people most don’t care about music enough to pirate it. Although at least music came in ahead of anime.
The decline in music piracy is partly because iTunes did a lot to make digital music easy, removing one incentive to use file-sharing services like Napster (in the old days) and LimeWire (more recently). There’s no question that iTunes moves a lot of music: it sold 5 billion songs just between June 2008 and February 2010, and the Beatles sold more than five million songs through the service in less than two months.
Then again, the Beatles haven’t made a new recording in more than 40 years. Who else is selling millions of downloads per month?
Here’s another way of looking at it: maybe the CD declines of the last few years have nothing to do with piracy or the move to digital. Maybe recorded music is going the way of sheet music in the early 20th century.
The 56-page PDF of the full study is available here.