Illegal downloading :/

MajorFubar

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Not exactly a new story but I found myself reading this earlier – a CBS News article from last year – which claims that a saddening 95% of all digital downloads are illegal:

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/01/21/tech/main6125189.shtml

…and I began to ponder ‘why is that the case?’. It’s not the cost: in the 80s, premium chart albums on LP cost £6+ or £10+ for the same thing on CD. Nowadays, the average album download is way less than the inflated equivalent of that.

So why are so many people not prepared to pay for the original thing? Or to put it another way, why are they happy just to own an illegal copy? It got me thinking that the main reason is entirely related to the death of the ‘physical entity’: an unavoidable bi-product of the download format and mindset.

Now there’s probably a better phrase for that, so just to explain myself…

Back in the old days, in my misguided youth, I just *might* have been guilty (just once or twice, Officer, honest) of borrowing an LP/CD from my local library and sneakily copying it to tape before taking it back. Thing is, it then always bugged me that I didn’t possess the original LP/CD: the tippexed, hand-scrawled inlay in the case screamed ‘FAKE’ at me from inside my Boots lockable cassette box. My hifi was not bad for something compiled from a student’s budget and so the SQ on the cassette was a decent facsimile of the record/CD, thanks to Dolby C and chrome tape. But it wasn’t original. It wasn’t the same. No original sleeve. No original artwork. No original LP/CD. And so, and almost without exception (on those one or two times, Officer) I duly ended up going out and buying the LP/CD, because having a ‘close facsimile’ was just not good enough.

Fast forward to the 21st century where downloads are now the predominant format, and it’s almost understandable why the equivalent of what I did – modern P2P piracy – is so rife. It’s not just that it’s easy because of broadband internet, nor because people are deliberately ‘ripping off the fat cat music industry’: I think it’s mainly because a legal download and a pirated torrent gets you the exact same thing: a collection of 1s and 0s on your hard-drive, and if you're lucky, some naff low-res pixelated jpg cover-art. There’s no blinding difference to nag your conscience and whisper ‘FAKE!’ down your ear when you stare at your torrented album on screen, and nothing missing to bug you because you’ve not got the ‘real thing’.

Here’s another example. Again, back in the day, Kev might borrow a CD from a Brian: a close mate with whom Kev shared a passion for a certain band or artist. Kev would borrow Brian’s CD, sneakily copy it to tape, then give him his CD back. Ok, Kev now had a copy on tape (very naughty) but in the back of Kev’s mind, he knew that of the two of them, the only person who’d really ‘got’ the album was Brian. If someone asked Kev, “Have you got the new album from Buns ‘n’ Posies…great album isn’t it!”, Kev would reply kind of sheepishly, “well yeah I’ve got a copy of it on tape from Brian”, like he was admitting he’d got a small willy. Kev knew his copy wasn’t the real deal. These days, Brian’s gone and spent £9.99 on an iTunes download and Kev’s torrented the exact same thing from Piratebay for free, and instead of Kev thinking “But I’ve not got the album for real”, his thinking’s more like “more fool Brian…”

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not condoning illegal downloading, nor am I excusing those who do it. But I don’t see any way round this.
 

chebby

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MajorFubar said:
Ok, Kev now had a copy on tape (very naughty) but in the back of Kev’s mind, he knew that of the two of them, the only person who’d really ‘got’ the album was Brian. If someone asked Kev, “Have you got the new album from Buns ‘n’ Posies…great album isn’t it!”, Kev would reply kind of sheepishly, “well yeah I’ve got a copy of it on tape from Brian”, like he was admitting he’d got a small willy. Kev knew his copy wasn’t the real deal.

Then there was the really cool kid who had all the unofficial imports and bootlegs that now sell for an absolute fortune to collectors...
 

Paul.

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I think many in the industry accept that it's not worth ruining the legitimate purchasers experience in the hope of stopping pirates, which inevitably won't work anyway. Those who pirate wouldn't go out and spend thousands per year on CDs if torrenting or P2P wasn't available, they would be buying their disks down the market. The more easily available and fairly priced digital music becomes, the more people will use it.

I always bought music on cd (would occasionally download something I wasn't sure about, then delete or buy). iTunes store on my iPhone along with AirPlay made music buying too easy, I spend more money now on a Sunday morning on the sofa with a cup of tea than I used to in the shops. The new 90 second previews on iTunes makes it even easier.
 

Alec

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Paul Hobbs said:
I think many in the industry accept that it's not worth ruining the legitimate purchasers experience in the hope of stopping pirates, which inevitably won't work anyway. Those who pirate wouldn't go out and spend thousands per year on CDs if torrenting or P2P wasn't available, they would be buying their disks down the market.

Quite, which makes a mockery of the figures.
 

Jame5

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I can see a way round this:

1. Music pricing should be regulated. Copyright holders have a legal monopoly, of course, over their copyright material. Monopolies need to be regulated to prevent the exploitation of consumers. Currently, consumers are able to stick two fingers up at copyright holders, but it hasn't always been that way and the current state of affairs is unfair on those who want to purchase their music legally.

2. The law should be enforced. People generally understand that there will probably be consequences if they use a TV without a licence, drive a car without tax, or commit benefit fraud. The same should be true of digital piracy. Would 95% of downloads be illegal if pirates thought they could get a knock on the door any minute. :poke:
 

cliffster

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Good morning all.

Very interesting post Major and I think you make a good point, however you haven't addressed the pricing issue.

This is an argument I recently had with some friends who were busy singing the praises of Apple itunes etc.

Lets suppose that you are a fan of 'Adele' and wish to purchase '21' on cd format.

Your local music store will sell you this for the region of £7.99.

Now, from the portion of that £7.99 that goes to the record company, they have to pay for the physical cd, recording, label printing, cd booklet ,crystal case and transportation to the retailer.

However, if you were to simply download the content directl none of these costs would apply, yet the price of the download would be about the same £7.99

Perhaps I'm missing somethig but it seems to me that the record companys are simply trousering the difference and we put up with it for the sake of convenience,

Anyone agree?

Cliffster.
 

basshead

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i read a report a while back about how those who download music illegally are also the ones who generally spend the most on music. i think clare newsome linked to it on here sometime.

there is no criminal intent behind illegal downloading, people just love music and want to hear as much as possible, regardless of their income.

also, the figures given by the industry regarding lost revenue due to illegal copying are nonsence and pure propeganda, they often presume that every illegal download would otherwise have been a legal sale. i could illegaly download £1000's worth of music today.. could i spend that much legaly buying it? no. would i want to even if i had the money? no. no one has lost out, but i have gained access to music to enjoy with friends and share and if we like it go to the artists gigs or buy the vinyl releases ect.

music is an art, and should be open to all. to support prosecution of those who download illegal music is to support the idea that culture should be restricted to those who can afford it. We in the uk should be so proud of how museums and art galleries are mainly free to all in this coutry, why cant we have the same attitude to music?

there may be an element of resention towards the music industry by the youth, just look at rage against the machine getting to xmas number one over xfactor. i know lots of people being priced out of music by rich artists, Glastonbury festival for example, the artists demanding so much money for a headline set has pushed the ticket price to a point where it restrics many true fans from seeing their fave artists in an amazing festival.
 
A

Anonymous

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basshead said:
i read a report a while back about how those who download music illegally are also the ones who generally spend the most on music. i think clare newsome linked to it on here sometime.

I can vouch for this. When Napster first appeared as a "dodgy download" application I downloaded lots of music... That led me to a renaissance in my in interest in music, and a massive increase in my purchases.

These days I don't download illegally...I use Spotify, buy the odd download and the odd CD.

As to the person suggesting DRM... I have returned a few CDs that I subsequently found out had DRM enabled. I would personally never pay for music with DRM, and would probably simply obtain a copy.

DRM just annoys people, makes it harder to create a legal backup and for the real pirates, is very easy to overcome.
 

MajorFubar

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cliffster said:
Good morning all.

Very interesting post Major and I think you make a good point, however you haven't addressed the pricing issue.

This is an argument I recently had with some friends who were busy singing the praises of Apple itunes etc.

Lets suppose that you are a fan of 'Adele' and wish to purchase '21' on cd format.

Your local music store will sell you this for the region of £7.99.

Now, from the portion of that £7.99 that goes to the record company, they have to pay for the physical cd, recording, label printing, cd booklet ,crystal case and transportation to the retailer.

However, if you were to simply download the content directl none of these costs would apply, yet the price of the download would be about the same £7.99

Perhaps I'm missing somethig but it seems to me that the record companys are simply trousering the difference and we put up with it for the sake of convenience,

Anyone agree?

Cliffster.
Very true and I have thought the same for some time, though those-in-the-know tell me that providing a hosting service from which people can download isn't cost-neutral, so the £7.99 is eaten-up by other means instead of through retail costs and the costs of producing and distributing the physical media.

What I was getting at in my post though was not how can we stop illegal downloading, more along the lines of how do we get round the fact that legal downloads don't get you anything more than illegal downloads, and that's one big reason why the latter are so widespread. We get nothing for paying for music other than a clear concience, whereas back in the day we got a record or CD which was obviously better than a home-taped audio-cassette with a hand-written label that didn't sound as good as the original. There's nothing to make pirates actually want to buy the original item.
 

professorhat

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MajorFubar said:
cliffster said:
Now, from the portion of that £7.99 that goes to the record company, they have to pay for the physical cd, recording, label printing, cd booklet ,crystal case and transportation to the retailer.

However, if you were to simply download the content directl none of these costs would apply, yet the price of the download would be about the same £7.99

Perhaps I'm missing somethig but it seems to me that the record companys are simply trousering the difference and we put up with it for the sake of convenience,

Anyone agree?

Cliffster.
Very true and I have thought the same for some time, though those-in-the-know tell me that providing a hosting service from which people can download isn't cost-neutral, so the £7.99 is eaten-up by other means instead of through retail costs and the costs of producing and distributing the physical media.

Yup, amongst others, the cost of hosting and supporting the servers and storage that hold all the music, plus the cost for the internet bandwidth to stream / upload the music to your PC. And in fact the energy required to do this exceeds that of manufacturing and distributing a CD (see recent WHF news report on this).
 

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