New Kid on the Music Piracy Block Posted Jul 11, 2017 by Ruchika Sharma

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Music Piracy

Piracy in the music industry is one of the strongest forces behind legal and technological advancements being made in the space. It has been bleeding the music industry to its death in recent years.

With the onset of the internet which is now an integral part of our lives, sharing of music files has become even easier. The widespread sharing of files and the easy accessibility of music on YouTube has been slowly but steadily murdering the business model of the various record companies. Music, once tied down by vinyl and copyright law, has been liberated for the greater good and/or at the expense of its rightful owners, depending on one’s perspective.

The reality of this plight of the industry can be best explained by quoting Mr. Alex Sayf Cummings’ feature length documentary ‘Democracy of Sound’, which very intricately traverses the various ways by which music has been pirated or stolen since circa 1870. It shows that music piracy was very much prevalent in the form of bootlegged wax cylinders then and through its entirety to present day thereby making us aware that the present debate surrounding copyrights and bootlegging-piracy is not new.

The latest Adage

From the times of copying sheet music in church choirs, the wax cylinders, the dead tapes of the 20th century and the present day ‘YouTubing generation’, piracy has taken many forms, and the latest to hit the market is that of stream ripping.

The intellectual property office of the UK along with PRS Music conducted a survey which showed that stream-ripping had now taken a top spot in the methods of music piracy. The study concluded that 15% in a survey of 9000 of the UK adult population regularly uses stream-ripping sites to acquire their music with a staggering 57% being aware of the existence of such a service. These sites allow users to illegally turn YouTube videos, Spotify Songs and other streaming content into permanent files on their devices. YouTube has emerged as the go to place for source content for these websites a rise of 141.3% from 2014 to 2016. 

Survey Findings

Grounds for stream-ripping were stated as: music already present with user in different format (31%); wish to listen to the offline music (26%), or on the move (25%); cannot manage to buy music (21%) and the perseverance that the official music is priced high (20%). Advertising was found to be the main funding model keeping stream-ripping services active, with over half (52.5%) linked to malware/PUP advertising. This gives us the conclusion that laws pertaining to copyright infringement and stricter punishments would be required to sway users off the idea of using a stream-ripping utility (web or app).

Ground Work Laid

The hope of this research was to provide the basis for a renewed and re-focused commitment to tackling online copyright infringement. The long term health of the UK’s cultural and creative sectors is in everyone’s best interests, including those of the digital service providers, and a coordinated industry and government approach to tackling stream ripping is essential.

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