P2P piracy is falling

Big Content is still in a panic over P2P even though evidence suggests that the numbers of pirates is falling.

In its 2010 annual report, the IFPI, the recording music’s global trade body claimed that the industry would “struggle to survive unless we address the fundamental problem of piracy.”

It is the same old song in which the industry blames P2P for its own sales short comings. So far such panic reports have been shown to overstate the figures considerably.

Now new NPD figures show that P2P piracy has actually fallen and only nine percent of US internet users even use peer-to-peer networks at all.

Market research firm NPD Group, which tracks music acquisition, said P2P use has fallen from 16 percent of all US Internet users to nine percent over the last three years.

The average number of downloads per person has also fallen from 35 per quarter in 2007 to 18 per quarter by the end of 2010.

While there must be people who are swapping loads of files it is also an indication that most most P2P users only pick up a few tracks.

Big Content already knows this. According to Ars Technica the data fits with information posted by Warner Music and shown to the FCC in early 2010.

Warner sheepishly suggested that only 13 percent of consumers were avowed pirates, and noted that pirates spent money on recorded music.

The NPD numbers could suggest that the illegal use of P2P was dropping off as a method of distribution. It only tracked P2P use and did not include one-click download sites and illegal online streaming services.

But it does indicate that Big Content’s attempts to fob off all its problems onto piracy are looking increasingly without merit.

Logically, if the industry’s problems were caused by pirates, then now piracy has dropped, the industry should be making more money. If it is not,  then there must be another cause.

A major three-year academic research project recently concluded that piracy was a “global pricing problem” that enforcement alone cannot fix. In short Big Content is charging too much for content.

The obvious other reason is that music and films these days are rubbish, despite all the wonderful special effects possible.