Everybody streams music now, right? Apparently not. A lot of people are still good old-fashioned music downloaders (including me). There’s still a lot of appeal in owning music and being able to access it offline. However, the problem is, a lot of music downloaders are still carrying another habit from the 2000s. Their downloaded music is pirated. Music piracy isn’t dead yet.
According to a new report by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), 38% of listeners continue to acquire music illegally. The most common method is stream-ripping (32%), which is basically converting YouTube videos to mp3s. The old torrent method, through file hosting services or P2P software, came second (23%). Acquisition via search engines in third place (17%), which mostly encompasses more decentralized ways of acquiring files.
“Music piracy has disappeared from the media in the past few years but it certainly hasn’t gone away,” David Price, director of insight and analysis at IFPI, told The Guardian. “People still like free stuff, so it doesn’t surprise us that there are a lot of people engaged in this. And it’s relatively easy to pirate music, which is a difficult thing for us to say.”
The whole Limewire/torrent thing was the old way of doing it, so YouTube ripping seems to be what music pirates have moved on to. As YouTube has grown into more of a music service, it has been cataloging music and apparently not putting on such great protection. Unlike torrent sites where some users were collecting and making the music available, YouTube seems to be doing a lot of that work for you.
That may be changing soon with copyright laws catching up with the digital age. The European Union recently passed a directive that will require its member states to enforce copyright protections and hold social media sites directly responsible for infringements.
Pirates are a crafty bunch though. By the time the laws catch up, they may have sailed on to other islands.