New Study Debunks Data Showing File-Sharing Helps CD Sales

“Common sense is, or should be, the handmaiden of economic analysis. When given the choice of free and convenient high-quality copies versus purchased originals, is it really a surprise that a significant number of individuals will choose to substitute the free copy for the purchase?”

By 2007 CD sales were already on the way out. I’m not sure any study has separated the effects of file sharing from the effects of a format shift.

This may be a fun academic exercise, but it feels like fighting the last war.

The Trichordist’s “Letter To Emily White”

This feels like a response to a straw man rather than directly to Emily, The NPR intern who admitted she didn’t acquire much of her music collection legitimately.1 But I still think some of the points here are interesting to think about.

  1. Downloaders argue that music needs to be more convenient to pay for, but today it’s so much easier to acquire music legitimately than it has ever been. It takes a click and 99¢ per song. The only inconvenient thing about this is that it costs money.
  2. There are a number of companies in tech that are complicit in this kind of activity and indirectly benefit from the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material.2

I think that a lot of people who keep their BitTorrent client open all day create loopholes in their brains (like ‘oh man, RECORD COMPANIES ARE EVIL’) to justify their behavior, when really it’s that they don’t want to pay for something that they can get for free.


  1. But she never really admits she illegally download her stuff. She just says she’s only ever bought 15 CDs. I don’t think that’s far out for a 21-year old. 

  2. It’s easy to talk about ad networks selling space around Pirate Bay downloads, but my favorite example has always been Acquisition, which I just learned here is no longer available for download. 

Spotify Is A BitTorrent Network

In Goodbye, Spotify. I knew you were too good to be true:

Spotify’s bandwidth-hogging has been a issue for people in Europe for over three years, and they’ve made no attempt to fix it. Spotify also makes zero attempts to notify users of these practices during the signup process – it’s buried in the EULA, and given a passing mention in one section of the FAQ. Rather than handling their own bandwidth like any other legitimate subscription service, they put us over our caps, and interrupt our work with random periods of unavailable upload bandwidth.

When you use Spotify you are basically a node in a BitTorrent network. This is why there’s no web client for Spotify. Spotify’s structure requires a desktop client.

It’s troubling that Spotify doesn’t make that clear to their users. It’s also troubling that this is what supposedly makes Spotify feel as if files are stored locally.

No One Pirates Music Anymore

Epicenter reports that music piracy is low on the list of things people download through BitTorrent.

Envisional’s researchers looked through the 10,000 most popular files being managed by the PublicBT BitTorrent tracker and broke it down by type. Pornography was, err, on top, with films coming next in popularity. Music sits way down the list.

The first comment echoes my thoughts:

The study uses BitTorrent data, and BitTorrent is primarily suited for sharing large files (aka video media and software) rather than small ones (mp3’s). So larger files would no doubt appear more prominent.

Although I don’t think anyone I know really pirates music the P2P way anymore. Most are happy with Pandora.

I’m not sure what the conclusion here is: that people are finding legitimate ways to get their music fix or that people don’t care enough to download music for free.

The Pirate Bay Wants To Be Feared

The Pirate Bay is planning on launching a new “Music Bay” site in April. There aren’t many details other than they claim that it will be scary.

Via Craig Granell, who adds:

I’m not sure how the Pirate Bay’s antics will improve things; instead, they’re more likely to enforce to many the feeling that they should, for some reason, be entitled to free music and that everyone they rip off somehow had it coming.

If/when streaming music ever becomes mainstream I don’t see who the Pirate Bay really serves other than the Free As In Beards crowd.