20% of people online are music pirates – but most know it’s theft

New evidence suggests that one fifth of all fixed-line internet users across the world regularly access services offering copyright-infringing music.

The stat comes from global record label trade body the IFPI, and is based on consumer data from ComScore and Nielsen.

When you consider that there are more than 3 billion people online in the world today, the severity of the music business’s ongoing piracy problem becomes clear.

Indeed, in its new Digital Music Report, the IFPI estimates that across 2014, there were 4 billion music downloads via BitTorrent sites alone – not taking into account cyberlockers, social media and other sources of pirated material.

However, there is some better news for anti-piracy music rightsholders on the horizon.

“52% of consumers agreed that downloading or streaming music without the copyright owner’s permission amounted to theft.”

First, the IFPI reports that since the UK High Court ordered numerous ISPs to block access to The Pirate Bay, the site has suffered from a dramatic reduction in traffic. Indeed, the organisation estimated that there has been a 45% decline in UK visitors to all BitTorrent sites – from 20.4m in April 2012 to 11.2m in April 2014.

It’s a similar story in Italy, where BitTorrent download numbers have fallen by 25.6% in the two years from January 2013 – although, of course, how much of this is down to ISP blocks and how much down to the lure of legitimate streaming services is unclear.

If the heart of piracy lies with the consumer attitude, though, there appears to light at the end of the tunnel.

IFPI commissions research firm IPSOS to conduct a consumer study across 13 of the world’s leading music markets – Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and the United States.

This survey discovered that 52% of consumers agreed – either strongly or a little – that downloading or streaming music without the copyright owner’s permission amounted to theft.

Meanwhile, 53% agreed that licensed services should appear above pirate services in Google search results, while more than half agreed that companies shouldn’t advertise on piracy sites.

According to the IFPI Digital Music Report, ISPs in 19 countries have now been ordered to block access to more than 480 copyright infringing websites.

Outside the EU, web-site blocking of copyright infringing sites has been authorised in countries including Argentina, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, South Korea and Turkey.

MBW research of The Pirate Bay earlier this year found that music didn’t even feature in the Top 100 global downloads on the site.Music Business Worldwide

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