BPI: Growing Threat From Illegal Web Downloads

BPI: Growing Threat From Illegal Web Downloads: “Growing Threat From Illegal Web Downloads, 18 December 2009.

Survey Shows Peer-to-peer use remains level, but other methods of illegal downloading on the rise

• Levels of illegal filesharing are not declining, despite significant media coverage on the issue.

• Use of non-P2P methods to acquire music illegally have grown significantly in last six months, and are expected to keep growing.

• Nonetheless, P2P still remains most important source for illegal downloads in the UK.

Levels of illegal peer-to-peer (P2P) filesharing in the UK have remained steady during 2009, but usage of web-based, non-P2P methods of downloading music illegally – such as from overseas MP3 pay sites and from newsgroups, blogs and forums linking to cyberlockers – are growing considerably, a major new survey carried out by Harris Interactive on behalf of BPI has revealed.

Harris Interactive conducted a quantitative online survey during November 2009, interviewing a total of 3,442 UK respondents aged 16-54. This survey included 1,012 respondents who stated they were downloading or filesharing music on peer-to-peer networks or from other web sources.

The survey showed a net increase in the use of web-based or ‘non-P2P’ methods during the last six months, with the biggest increases in use coming from overseas unlicensed MP3 pay sites (47%) and newsgroups (42%). Other significant rises included MP3 search engines (28%) and forum, blog and board links to cyberlockers (18%).

Geoff Taylor, BPI Chief Executive, said, ‘There are now more than thirty-five legal digital music services in the UK, offering music fans a great choice of ways to get music legally. It’s disappointing that levels of illegal P2P use remain high despite this and the publicity surrounding imminent measures to address the problem. It’s vital that those measures come into force as quickly as possible.

‘The growth in other, non-P2P methods of downloading music illegally is a concern, and highlights the importance of including a mechanism in the Digital Economy Bill to deal with threats other than P2P.’

Other findings highlighted that nearly half (47%) of users of P2P sites and software used them as a source for acquiring music on at least a weekly basis, with a third (31%) of respondents who obtain music illegally doing so on a daily basis. Whilst some other sources – such as overseas MP3 pay sites (72%), newsgroups (70%) and forums / blogs (54%) – are used more frequently, P2P accounts for a much higher volume of illegal downloading with an average of nine tracks per month, compared to 4.9 for overseas MP3 pay sites, 5.3 for newsgroups and 6.0 for forums / blogs.

When questioned on their future plans, current users of unauthorised services reported that they actually intended to increase their illegal activities in the coming six months. Use of P2P sites and software showed a modest predicted net increase of 5%, but this paled compared to a significant upswing across the board in the future usage of alternatives to P2P, with overseas MP3 pay sites (+40% net) and newsgroups (+32% net) showing the highest increases of all.


For further information
Please contact Adam Liversage on 0207 803 1326 or e-mail adam.liversage@bpi.co.uk.

Notes for editors
Harris Interactive conducted an earlier quantitative online survey during February 2009, interviewing a total of 5,218 UK respondents aged 16-54. 23% of these respondents confirmed they were current filesharers – the same percentage as the survey carried out during November 2009.

P2P sites and software – P2P networks including BitTorrent and Limewire enable users to search for and upload or download media files, including music. The BitTorrent protocol requires users to search for files by visiting websites listing ‘torrents’, such as The Pirate Bay.

Overseas MP3 pay sites – websites based overseas, typically in Eastern European countries, selling copyrighted music without permission from, or financial recompense to, the rights holders.

Cyberlockers – online digital storage services which enable users to upload and store files, including copyrighted material. Users can and then instantly publish a specific link to those files on blogs, forums and other public websites. Examples of popular cyberlocker services include Rapidshare, Megaupload, Mediafire and zShare.

MP3 search engines – Search websites wholly dedicated to finding illegal MP3 files

About BPI
The BPI is the representative voice of the UK recorded music business. We are a trade organisation funded by our members – which include the UK’s four major record labels and hundreds of independent music companies. BPI members account for approximately 90% of all recorded music sold in the UK, and globally the UK’s recorded music market is the third biggest.

The BPI also organises the annual BRIT Awards show as well as the Classical BRIT Awards show. The organising company BRIT Awards limited, is a fully owned subsidiary of the BPI. Substantial proceeds from both shows go to the BRIT Trust, the charitable arm of the BPI that has donated almost £15m to charitable causes nationwide, since its foundation in 1989.

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