While music piracy may not be the buzzworthy topic it was in the days of Napster and Limewire, an idea given life by the RIAA’s decision to stop suing downloaders, that doesn’t mean it’s a forgotten issue. The RIAA’s vehement support of things like SOPA, ACTA, and CISPA indicates as much. Furthermore, a quick look at the RIAA’s site reveals piracy is still a front-burner issue for the industry.
That’s why the findings of two studies pointed out by Techdirt are still important, and it would nice if the message from the music industry’s ruling powers reflected them, but that’s another story for another day. The findings of the two studies reveal something of a novel concept: If you offer people legitimate alternatives to stealing digital music–services like Spotify, for instance–it has a dramatic reduction on amount of piracy that goes on. While this lament has been echoed time and again when alternatives to governmental control of the Internet are discussed, the fact that the data supports the stance makes it a much more credible position.
The Norwegian reduction in piracy was pointed out by Torrent Freak, which referenced a report in Afterposten.no, a Norwegian news site. The report studies piracy habits between 2008 and 2012, and noticed the following:
…in 2008 almost 1.2 billion songs were copied without permission. However, by 2012 that figure had plummeted to 210 million, just 17.5% of its level four years earlier.
Even the RIAA would have to acknowledge a reduction of a billion songs is significant. The report also stated the cause for the reduction, based on survey feedback:
Of those questioned for the survey, 47% (representing around 1.7 million people) said they use a streaming music service such as Spotify. Even more impressively, just over half (corresponding to 920,000 people and 25% of Norwegian Internet users) said that they pay for the premium option.
While the Spotify suggestion was the Torrent Freak author, a study sponsored by Spotify showed a significant reduction of music piracy in the Netherlands as well:
Since the turn of the century, both Sweden’s and the Netherlands’ respective music industries followed similar paths. Both saw steep falls in their recorded music revenues since 2001, with ‘rampant’ piracy (and the Pirate Bay especially) taking much of the blame. Yet after halving in size by 2008, Swedish music revenues are now showing clear signs of sustainable growth thanks largely to the success of Spotify… In Italy, piracy occurs on 77 IPs per 100 residential connections but if, like in the Netherlands, this fell to 27 IPs per 100, there would be 7m fewer Italian households using piracy. As a consequence, this would also mean 47m fewer files being taken.
Now, it should be noted Spotify is using this report to justify its existence in the Italian market, as well as its potential impact, but the fact remains, when the Netherlands received access to Spotify’s service, music piracy decreased. Noticeably.
Considering the fact that Spotify’s study referenced the Pirate Bay being blocked, the entertainment entities that want to influence the United States government’s attempt to legislate the Internet will probably chalk it up to a successful display of law enforcement. If, however, law enforcement is being praised, the next question is, if blocking the Pirate Bay was so effective, why didn’t it eliminate piracy altogether? Is it because by blocking such services has little impact on the amount of piracy? Like, next to none?