Saturday, January 17, 2009

IFPI: Virtually all music downloads are unauthorized and unpaid

IFPI (the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) has released its Digital Music Report 2009, which contains a truly amazing statistic:
95 per cent of music downloads are unauthorised, with no payment to artists and producers
So even with iTunes and Amazon and all the other legal ways to download music, 95% of the "market" remains in stolen goods. On the bright side, there are still a lot of people who love music. On the down side, I fear there's going to be a lot less quality music produced if people aren't persuaded to pay for it.


  1. One question I've had for quite some time is this: How many of the unauthorized music downloads are NEVER listened to?

    I keep imagining a Beatles fan downloading every single version of every single song just "because they can", and those files just sitting on the hard drive until the computer gets thrown away.

  2. I wonder how many of the total number of unauthorized music downloads are actually listened to.

    If music fans are paying for the songs, they probably just buy the songs they want to hear. Then they listen to the muisic and enjoy it (or not).

    If music fans find a way that they can just download the songs for free, I think that for a lot of them the magpie instinct can kick in. Then they'll download, say, every available version of every single Beatles song ever released. Not because they'll listen to many of those music files, but just because they can.

    I'd bet that for every minute of music that's illegally downloaded and listened to, there might be several minutes worth of music that are illegally downloaded and never listened to at all. If that's true, it might mean that there should be something of an asterisk that accompanies statistics like that 95% number. Maybe.

  3. Aside from the fact that I would trust IFPI's research on downloading as much as much as Philip Morris research on lung cancer, there remains unanswered the important question: to what extent did those un-paid downloads harm (or help) the economy or social welfare?

    A Canadian study ( and a Dutch study ( both suggest that the net effect may be none, or even positive.

    I also note that such downloading may not be contrary to copyright law in certain jurisdictions (e.g., Canada).


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