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The loss of LimeWire has P2P pirates on the run.  (Source: Walt Disney)
But are pirates turning to YouTube and elsewhere

The NPD Group, a top market analytics research firm has released a new study [press release] that might surprise some.  It claims that in 2010 the rate of users who pirate content on peer-to-peer (P2P) networks dropped to 9 percent, down drastically from 16 percent reported in 2007.  This marks a dramatic reversal of the trend of increasing piracy rates in recent years.

The report argues that piracy is not a "fundamental" problem for the media industry, given the relatively low levels.  This stands in stark contrast to statements in the Digital Media Report 2010 [PDF] by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), the parent organization of America's RIAA.  The IFPI stated in the report, "[The industry will] struggle to survive unless we address the fundamental problem of piracy."

Warner Music, a RIAA member takes a bit more conservative approach.  In a recent presentation to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, Warner suggested that only 13 percent of Americans pirate.  The Warner report also offers some disclaimers about the harmful impact of pirates, stating that most pirates do spend money on content and that they "tend to drive high discovery for others".

The numbers from the NPD Group are admittedly slanted, though, due to a significant event in the industry.  They were taken from the final quarter of 2010, when the RIAA scored a major lawsuit win that forced the U.S.'s most popular P2P client, LimeWire, to cease distribution.  Thus the dip in P2P filesharing may be only temporary, due to the loss of one of the highest profile clients.

States Russ Crupnick, entertainment industry analyst for NPD, "Limewire was so popular for music file trading, and for so long, that its closure has had a powerful and immediate effect on the number of people downloading music files from peer-to-peer services and curtailed the amount being swapped. In the past, we've noted that hard-core peer-to-peer users would quickly move to other Web sites that offered illegal music file sharing. It will be interesting to see if services like Frostwire and Bittorrent take up the slack left by Limewire, or if peer-to-peer music downloaders instead move on to other modes of acquiring or listening to music."

Today, many of the most used clients are unofficial community releases of past P2P clients that were banned by lawsuits.  Examples include Kazaa Lite and WireShare (formerly LimeWire Pirate Edition), etc.  According to the NPD Group's data, FrostWire (traditional P2P) and uTorrent (Torrent P2P) increased in use, as well, in the wake of the Limewire shutdown.

While the study did consider BitTorrent traffic (a specialized P2P protocol), it did not consider new forms of illegal content distribution, such as one-click downloads, illegally streamed content, such as unauthorized posts to video sharing sites like YouTube.  The latter seems particularly prevalent, as you can go to YouTube and find virtually any song you can imagine -- mostly from unofficial user-submitted uploads (though the major label industry does maintain an official presence on the site via channels like Vevo).

Media organizations have tried unsuccessfully to sue YouTube's owner Google over such posts.  The television industry championed the biggest such case, when Viacom sued Google, demanding $1B USD in damages for pirated content hosted on YouTube.  The media giant's case fell apart, though, after it came out that Viacom employees uploaded content under fake screennames to make it look like infringed content.

The study also only surveyed those 13 and up.



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This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

By TheEinstein on 3/29/2011 9:07:39 AM , Rating: 1
Credentials online are like monopoly money from an atm sometimes, but I shall try to validate my claims.

I am both a security expert and a statistics scientist.

In 2000 to 2001 I studied first hand piracy at levels most would not. I went about different networks and websites and the whole shabang. What I found back then is that the estimates were off significantly from what I could find.

While a modern torrent might have so many seeds, and so many downloading at a given time, the total number of different objects being 'seeded' is actually off acknowledged scales. While in no way did I track individuals to determine numbers of persons involved (useless with some basic efforts to mask an IP, especially with dialup being the majority back then), the scale of different items and their total numbers on a given day were astonishing.

I would say that any industry estimate is significantly off kilter. I would easily say there is 100 times (or much more) traffic than even the RIAA estimates account for. While this may increase the total 'offenders' to a small percentage, the total losses become much more staggering than original estimates would conclude.

And I am sad to say that I know I did not find all 'systems' in place as I do not speak Mandarin, Russian, or any of the European languages. The scope is much larger when you account for the piracy levels know for those nations being higher than what is commonly accepted for the United States.

Just a small survey of players who at one time used a private server instead of a game companies pay servers would indicate the levels that truly happen.

Oh and as one poster stated that he had ripped music as a child, then later as an adult threw it away and purchased the music.

Please account for those who do not have moral issues later in life, please also account for inflation, interest, and on-going investments. You may have stolen only $1000 (guess) in music, and later paid that $1000, but even by normal margins, compounding interest over (guessing) 10 years means you actually cost them quite a bit. Finally inflation must be accounted for as well, but I digress with this.

The point is, for the TL;DR crowd:

There is much more piracy than estimates by most groups show. Perhaps they are handicapped by needing to prove at a minimal level of what is going on, or by their own market type (music, video, tv, games, office software, etc). There is much more piracy than RIAA estimates, and the cost is staggering.


“And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say?” -- Bill Gates on the Mac ads














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