A new report published by UK communications regulator Ofcom, covering online copyright infringement during the third quarter (Aug-Oct) of 2012, may make some in the music industry ponder how well the transition from the physical to the digital market is really going.
The study reveals that 10% of 12+ year-old internet users consumed at least some music illegally – yet only 11% of respondents had paid for downloads, while 6% paid for online music subscriptions. Focusing on increasing subscription uptake appears to be a good idea, as total spend on subscriptions across this age group was almost double that of digital purchases. It may be an uphill struggle, however, as the numbers indicate that a vast majority of people still prefer to consume music for free online, either legally or illegally.
While 35% of illegal downloaders said they used P2P services, 13% said they used cyberlockers. And why do they infringe? As the number of legal services increase, some of the answers may seem less relevant than others:
50% of the infringers said they do it because it’s free
46% because it’s convenient
43% because it’s quick
26% said they do it to try before buying.
Interestingly, when asked what would make them stop infringing, the answers didn’t necessarily correspond with the reasons they do it in the first place. While 30% said cheaper legal services would be a factor, a quarter said more clarity on what is legal and what isn’t would do it – and 24% said they’d consider it if everything they wanted was available legally.
Yes, there still appears to be significant confusion regarding legality on the internet. The large-scale survey of 5,500 people showed that 41% of users aged 12+ still claim that they are either “not particularly confident” or “not at all confident” in terms of what is legal and what isn’t online. That’s a drop of 3% from the previous quarter, when 44% agreed with either of those statements, and shows educating users is moving at a snails pace – but at least it’s moving in the right direction.
Worryingly, 4% of respondents assumed that if they were being charged for a service it had to be legal.
Now, if we could only increase the awareness of legal online music services. The majority of respondents knew about YouTube (79%) but, surprisingly, only 60% were aware of iTunes. Of the streaming services, Spotify came on top, with 40% of internet users recognizing what it was.
Funnily enough, some of the reasons people gave for choosing to pay for online content (as well as music the survey covered other content areas, including film, TV and e-books) were the same as those illegal downloaders used as arguments for infringing: the top reason, given by 45% of those surveyed, was that it’s easier and more convenient, and 40% said it’s quicker. And artists and music companies may be comforted by the thought that almost a third (33%) of those who choose to spend money on content on legal sites do so because they consider it morally wrong to use illegal sites.
The full report is here.