95% of Music Downloads are Illegal: IFPI

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) has released its report on Digital Music 2009. According to the report (.PDF). It concludes that despite initiatives by the music industry, 95% of music downloads continue to be illegal.

Yes, the IFPI, or as it's known, the global version of the RIAA, says that 40 billion songs were illegally downloaded in 2008, and the report goes on to state that:
The debate has a huge way to go, but the campaign for ISPs to act as proper partners in helping protect intellectual property is making progress.
Yes, they're talking about "three strikes rules" the E.U., France, and now the RIAA are considering / embracing. Nothing like really, really, bad news to push your initiatives through, after all. They call the system "graduated response," and list the following statistics:
  • Seven out of ten (72%) UK music consumers would stop illegally downloading if told to do so by their ISP (Entertainment Media Research, 2008)
  • Seven out of ten (74%) French consumers agree internet account disconnection is a better approach than fines and criminal sanctions (IPSOS, France, May 2008)
  • Eight out of ten (82%) American teenagers familiar with the law think sanctions for illegal downloading are appropriate; 57 per cent of those unfamiliar with the law agree (KRC US, January 2008)
  • 90 per cent of consumers would stop illegally file-sharing after two warnings from their ISP (IPSOS, France, May 2008)
Still, it's hard to believe that 95% figure. The majority of people hardly understand P2P, or want to participate in what many consider immoral as well as illegal, after all. Happily for the industry, though, according to the report,
Music companies’ digital revenues internationally grew by an estimated 25 per cent in 2008 to US$3.7 billion. Digital platforms now account for around 20 per cent of recorded music sales, up from 15 per cent in 2007. The continued growth in digital sales has helped slow down the rate of decline in the overall market for recorded music.

Single track downloads, up 24 per cent in 2008 to 1.4 billion units globally, continue to drive the online market, but digital albums are also growing healthily (up 37%). The top-selling digital single of 2008 was Lil Wayne’s Lollipop.
Pretty impressive growth despite the piracy. Also, unlike the RIAA, the IFPI does not consider every download to be a lost sale. Rather, they consider about 10% of the downloads to be lost sales, meaning that rather than 40 billion songs, only 4 billion song sales were lost, assuming, of course, the IFPI's unsubstantiated numbers are correct.

Here's where what Valve's Jason Holtman said at the Game Business Law summit at SMU's law school last week strikes a chord. He said that "Pirates are underserved customers." And that makes sense: quite a few people pirate games because of overpriced schlock and DRM. The same might apply to music.

After all, the music industry, despite all the cheering from the IFPI, really still doesn't get the digital age. As the study states, the industry (and music retailers like iTunes) is finally, finally getting that people hate DRM. Serve the customers well, with DRM-less music, better pricing, and there'll be less piracy, so the theory goes. We'll see, though hopefully we'll see more independent studies rather than industry-funded ones.
Via:  IFPI
Tags:  RIAA, IFPI, P2P, Bittorrrent
acarzt 5 years ago

I don't pirate games, I buy them... But I will download demo's to see if I will like the game before I buy it... I will also download CDs before I buy them to see if I like it. If I like an album, or artist, I will buy their CD's because the sound quality on a CD is much better than most of the downloads you'll find out there. But I still don't see how it can be considered illegal to download a CD when the music is broadcast over the radio for free... and i'm sure many of you remember having a cassette tape ready and recording your favorite songs when they would come on lol. Then technology got better and set top CD recorders became available. And now there is XM and Sirius which offer high quality AND you can record that TOO. I've never heard of anyone being prosecuted for that. If I can record my TV shows and watch them whenever I want, why can't I do the same thing with my Music? The only difference is my source for the music, i'm downloading then listening... some concept different order. It shouldn't be illegal.

shadowself 5 years ago

acarzt: I still don't see how it can be considered illegal to download a CD when the music is broadcast over the radio for free ... If I can record my TV shows and watch them whenever I want, why can't I do the same thing with my Music? The only difference is my source for the music, i'm downloading then listening... some concept different order. It shouldn't be illegal.

So you're cool with breaks in your songs for advertising every 30 seconds? Same concept, after all.

JPage 2 years ago

did you check www.qtrax.com which is truly the only real leagal download music

realneil 2 years ago

I quit downloading any protected content many years ago. They took a lot of people to the cleaners and I didn't want to be one of them.

I do like to go to our local flea markets and buy used, original CD's for 50 cents.

I also get DVDs for a few bucks each.

I have XM radio and I use Pandora too.

I'm not hurting for music and movies, and I'm not paying those heartless RIAA/IFPI bastards either.

JOMA 2 years ago
If they can't prove those numbers with concrete data you may as well say only 1% of downloads are illegal. It's just as valid.
3vi1 5 years ago

Come on people, try harder. I'll bet we could get that number up to 97 or 98% with a little effort.

On a serious note: Here's the solution I choose - stream indie stations every day to find some new favorite bands, go buy their albums from Magnatune (http://www.magnatune.com/) and like-minded vendors, and don't buy anything by anyone affiliated with any RIAA label (http://www.riaaradar.com/).

There's plenty of good music out there (http://www.riaaradar.com/search.asp?searchtype=ASIN&keyword=B000CAA77O): There's no need to give your money to douchebags and the bands that associate with them.

bob_on_the_cob 5 years ago

I used to download music, back in the napster day. Just to much of a pain in the butt for someone like me. I am a bit OCD about my music collection and just having to edit the OD3 tags is worth the 99 cents to me. I had some issues with Itunes a while back too. Now I spend most of my time on streaming radio stations like pandora.


@acarzt I think the issue is income. Radio and TV have ads that are used to in part pay for your music/shows. On limewire and such there is no one playing fees to make that music avalable to you.

sinse 5 years ago

For those of you leaving comments that downloading music is illegal, and you live in the USA or Canada, you are sadly misinformed.

Downloading copyrighted music in the USA or Canada is NOT illegal. Never has been, as far as I know. What IS illegal is UPLOADING music. That is why the RIAA always gets people who use P2P services (i.e. Napster, gnutella, Kazaa, Torrent), because you actually share what you have downloaded with other people. If you download directly from an FTP, HTTP, or mIRC server where it does not make you upload anything to it first, it is perfectly legal. I might add that it would not be legal to make additional copies at that point though, as that would be reproduction of copyrighted material.

Please read up on the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which explains this. Good ole Bill Clinton (c:

And this is an example article from someone more articulate than I am myself:


My apologies if those commenting are not living in North America. I do not know international law as well as the laws that I have to find loopholes in :)

acarzt 5 years ago

I have a feeling that wouldn't fly in a court room lol.

And to those mentioning the commercials. When I used to record music old school via cassette... I would not record the commercials, and once I have the songs I wanted I wouldn't listen to the radio anymore just my cassettes lol. And as far as recording TV Shows... I don't watch the Commercials either. I rarely watch live tv, i just record it and watch it later. In the meantime i'm on the internet lol(i need to be studying instead lol)

Also, If you pay for XM, or Sirius you don't have commercials, just quick breaks with people talking... And you can record that music too. There are receivers with built in recording functions :-P

Dev 5 years ago

The big music companies have a short memory. When SONY release the recordable betamax player. This allowed people to record their favorite TV shows. Disney sued SONY citing lose of revenue from advertisements as people would record, then fast forward through the ads. SONY won the case on the basis that "even if a technology is primarily used for illegal purposes it can not be outlawed", SONY considered this a landmark case. Betamax spurred VHS and VHS to DVD and DVD to Bluray. Disney went on to release its movies on this medium and now earns most of its revenue from DVD/VHS sales. Some things are too ironic to be even noticed.

Indeed as well the first radio stations were pirates as they played their music over the air without royalties. Soon the big music companies hammered down on them like they are on us today. Eventually a compromise was achieved and radio stations are an important source of revenue for musicians and music companies.

This the digital age. The laws governing conventional economics don't work the same on the net. The music and film industry are trying to shoe horn in old business models where they don't work.

Whats the solution? We like movies and music, we want them and musicians/film makers want to make them. Lets start by cutting out the middle man. Who is the middle man? the people between us and the creaters. Look at how the games industry adapted. Steam, not perfect but its going in the right direction. Its developers and and gamers occupying the stage with a small slice of the pie for suits and ties. i.e Devs make more and gamers save more. Thus more games to gamers. How are other mediums adapting, South Park has thrown everything up online. With ads during the stream similar to the Daily Show. Again the middle man cut out. Why do you think these companies are upset? Were cutting out the middle men. Them. I believe artists should be paid for their work. I believe the artists are the real entrepreneurs. These middle men are the modern age luddites*.

*Luddites, were people who lost their jobs to machines during the industrial revolution. e.g the people at low level jobs such as sewing before the sewing machine came.

Don't feel guilty for downloading music. You may be hurting artists in the short term but change happens. To those who buy their music. Fair play your heart is in the right place but don't be quick to condemn others for not following the same path. I ask you is the internet the new radio stations and betamax player? Its all of these an more.

Der Meister 5 years ago

Well put Dev

Post a Comment
or Register to comment