The Music Industry Piracy Investigations organisation (MIPI) claims that 18 percent of the Australian population (approximately 2.8 million people) have illegally downloaded music during the past 12 months and that those engaged in file sharing have dramatically increased the volume of music being illegally obtained from previous studies.
The organisation, which is in possession of thousands of IP address of consumers who have downloaded from either Limewire or Kazaa, is in a position to take legal action similar to that taken last week in the USA, which saw a 30 year old mother fined $247,000 for illegally downloading 24 songs from Australian web site Kazaa.
The MIPI claims that illegal downloaders are on average downloading 30 songs per month. This equates to over 1 billion songs being illegally traded per year by Australians alone. The study conducted by Qantum also revealed that people under the age of 25 are illegally downloading an average of 54 songs on file sharing networks each month, up from 32 songs in 2003.
At a recent GfK Conference in Sydney, 5 out of 10 people interviewed in a vox pop admitted to illegally downloading music. Most were over 30.
MIPI General Manager, Sabiene Heindl, said, “Undoubtedly the magnitude of illegal file sharing is having a significant impact on the Australian music industry. The research indicates that 57 percent of those who download via a peer-to-peer service ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ then purchase the CD from a retailer, and that 26 percent of illegal file sharers state they have bought less music (including CDs and digital downloads) as a direct consequence of their use of file sharing networks. IFPI states that global sales of CDs fell in value by 23 percent between 2000 and 2005 partly as a result of digital music piracy.”
The MIPI says that peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing networks, such as Kazaa and Limewire, have rapidly emerged over the last five to seven years as vehicles for inducing and facilitating mass infringement of copyright. In simple terms, these networks operate by distributing software among users (‘peers’) spread around the world which facilitates the sharing of copyright-protected content stored on individual users’ computers. The extent of P2P file sharing around the world is substantial and, due to the particular characteristics of music files (i.e. relatively small in size and often not incorporating DRM protection technology), the music industry has been heavily impacted by this phenomenon. It is now clear, however, that with the spread of faster broadband services around the developed world other forms of copyright material are being illegally shared in rapidly increasing volumes – for instance, television shows and films.