Illegal Music and Piracy

Piracy is a problem that helps some, but affects the rest of us. According to IFPI, out of every three disks that are ever produced, one is illegal.

The piracy business is profitable, costing legitimate U.S stores approximately $250 billion every year*. This means that as long as people keep paying for piracy, it will not stop. Record stores have successfully reduced the piracy average in most developed countries like the U.S, but unfortunately, other countries like China have not complied with U.S pressure to reduce the piracy average.

The U.S government calculates that popular P2P network users download as many as 2.5 billion songs every month. Kazaa, once being the most popular P2P network, has lost more than half of its 389,392,000 (July 2006) users partially because of U.S legal pressure. Unfortunately, sources reveal that the actual number of P2P users keeps increasing mostly because of new P2P networks appearing every month and lack of U.S law enforcement.

Top Ten Piracy Countries according to IFPI (in order):

  • Paraguay
  • China
  • Indonesia
  • Ukraine
  • Russia
  • Pakistan
  • Mexico
  • India
  • Brazil
  • Spain

It is estimated that up to 1.6 billion illegal disks will be sold in the year 2006. There have been many attempts by different governments in the world to reduce this number. The U.S pressured Sweden to shut down many websites offering illegal music and Sweden complied. Unfortunately, other countries such as Russia and China are not as willing to cooperate with the U.S government.

In countries such as Mexico, an illegal music CD may cost ten pesos (little less than a dollar). Such ridiculously low prices encourage people to buy them instead of regular expensive CDs (which may cost 300 pesos or more). In 31 countries including Mexico, illegal disks outnumber legal disks.

The distribution of CD burners encourages regular users to copy their own music. Most new computers have a CD burner integrated by default and it does not take more than ten minutes for a regular user to burn his or her own music onto a CD. The combination of P2P illegal downloads, CD burners and MP3-playing stereos has greatly affected the legal music industry, lowering revenue approximately 20% every year.

As more people acquire high-speed internet access and acknowledge the existence of P2P networks, record store revenue is expected to take a stronger hit.

The IFPI estimates that in the year 2002 more than 500 million files were being shared. Out of this, 99% were being illegally distributed. Recently, the president of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) admitted that illegal music distribution will never be erradicated, but that it will be contained.

*This not only includes illegal music, but all piracy in general.