One-third of the people reading this are thieves

We are all pirates, suggests a new study. Cause for alarm?

At least, that's what a recent study from Digital Music News and BigChampagne suggests. Why? Because 36.4% of the 1.66 million computers survey had LimeWire, a popular peer-to-peer (P2P) program installed. Guilty by association?

I have LimeWire installed on my Mac. This doesn't make me a thief. In fact, I've bought a wide range of music through iTunes over the past year. I think I've downloaded one or two songs and a few goal compilations using LimeWire in the past year when I couldn't find them on iTunes. The songs in question - by Led Zeppelin - I ended up buying (again, as I'd already bought them once or twice on CD and cassette tape) when they became available on iTunes.

So, 99.999% of the music I've listened to in the past year was happily bought through legitimate means. .001% was not. At least, not originally. Am I a thief? I suppose so. But not by any devious plan. I imagine that I'm not alone in how I consume music.

But maybe as a 30-something geezer, I'm atypical. Maybe everyone does want to steal music, as the music industry seems to believe. If this is the case, as Ars Technica writes, charging more per song does not sound like a winning resolution to the problem:

Clearly, the so-called "darknet" remains far and away the world's leading provider of online media content, drowning legit download services in a flood of "free." This data also should give the major labels pause in their ongoing attempts to convince Apple that $0.99 per song is way too cheap.

The music industry has a payment problem, not a piracy problem. It resisted the digital urge for so long that it helped to push people to steal rather than purchase music. I think it's in an intermediate quandary, but one that will fade as more and more people get used to the idea for buying digital music, whether through iTunes (or other online markets), ringtones, or other means.

The music industry can take solace in the discovery that certain demographics are more likely to buy music than others: Mac users, for one, but also older users. Teens are rarely going to be a good source of income for any company, but once they graduate...more disposable income and more propensity to pay for value.

In sum, the music industry can use Simon and Garfunkel to subsidize Britney Spears. Take heart: thieves eventually grow up to become corporate drones with cash to burn and the inclination to do so in legitimate ways.


More commentary at Slashdot.

Tags:
Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

    ARTICLE DISCUSSION

    Conversation powered by Livefyre

    Don't Miss
    Hot Products
    Trending on CNET

    Hot on CNET

    The Next Big Thing

    Consoles go wide and far beyond gaming with power and realism.