Discussing issues related to illegal music and movie downloading, and the high-definition DVD format war in this industry is like a Hollywood gossip blog writing about Britney Spears. You read the same stuff over and over again, yet can't help but cover it because it's such a hot topic. Here's another one for the roster: the International Federation of the Phonographic Industries (IFPI), which works in tandem with the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), hopes to help deter illegal music downloading by urging Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to take action against its guilty customers. Huh?
Yes, the Federation says that ISPs should take a "far bigger role in protecting music on the Internet". By "far bigger role" it means cutting off any Internet user that frequently uploads copyright material using the provider's service. In November, the French government put such an action plan into play.
Although this might be an effective way to deter illegal uploaders (and thus downloaders), at what point will blame stop being placed on anyone and everyone? Should Microsoft or Apple be held liable because they provide the software for the computers to work? Or how about PC manufacturers? Should they be deemed guilty by association if an illegal uploaded is using one of their products to engage in his activity?
Perhaps the efforts should be placed on figuring out why people are sourcing content in this way in such large numbers, and find out how to sway them toward legal content rather than away from illegal versions. Illegal music downloading has become such a widespread problem, in part, because consumers don't see an acceptable alternative in the digital arena. Now that DRM-free tunes through legitimate sites are surfacing, we might see more support move toward legal activity, and away from "free" stuff.
Also, the IFPI blames a lack of interoperability between services and devices for hampering progress in the legel digital download space. Yet other associations and groups try to lobby for levies to be placed on portable audio players to compensate for the ability to record tunes from one device to another. So we should be able to download tunes and use them on a multitude of devices, but if we use them on a multitude of devices, then we're illegally "copying" them.
When will it end? We likely have a long way to go.
On a related note, the IFPI says that digital downloads account for about 15% of the global music market, up 4% from last year. In the U.S., that number spikes to 30% in revenue. In 2007, 20 illegal tracks were downloaded for every legally downloaded one.