Feeds

Music sales slide despite RIAA's crushing blows against piracy

Or because of them?

Security for virtualized datacentres

Opinion 2005 proved one thing. The music industry really is as dumb as you think.

US CD sales in 2005 fell 3.5 per cent year-over-year, according to Nielsen Soundscan. That's quite a blow given that CD sales actually rose by 2.3 per cent in 2004. A sane person might suggest that higher energy costs throughout 2005 ate up a few of those sales or that pricey iPods left less cash to spend on albums. This logic escapes the Recording Industry Association of American (RIAA), which again attributes the fall in sales to piracy and which last year attributed the rise in sales to better anti-piracy measures.

So which is it? Are the RIAA's anti-piracy measures affecting sales or not?

Well, in 2005, the RIAA filed 7,000 more lawsuits against consumers - bringing the all-time total to more than 16,000. Along with the movie crew, it also managed to shutdown many of the most popular BitTorrent hubs. In addition, the US Supreme Court handed the RIAA a convenient decision against Grokster that holds P2P sites liable for their users' actions. Last but not least, the Down Under version of the RIAA convinced a court to clamp down on Kazaa.

All in all, 2005 marked a banner year for quashing CD piracy in the courts and on the internet. You'd think sales would have gone up once again, if you buy into the RIAA's way of thinking.

While P2P networks still thrive, they're mostly full of porn and mangled media. No one in their right mind or at least with a day job would sit there trying to pull down these tunes when they can buy a perfect album at the store. Similarly, movies take forever to download and come out looking pretty shite for the most part. The P2P networks - not that they were ever that great - aren't what they used to be, if hunting for music is your main goal.

Given all this, it would seem like the RIAA has the piracy fiends by their song-swapping balls. If they don't, then what's the next course of action?

Well, there aren't many sites left to shut down. In fact, without major media hubs to go after, the music publishers are now reaching to examine sites that post lyrics to songs. (We've bought many a song after lyric hunting, but that's surely because we're odd, totally unique, not mainstream creatures.) Along with the evil lyric mongers, consumers will likely be targeted by another 10,000 or so lawsuits in 2006. Then the RIAA can wait for the year-end data and say either that its war on piracy really boosted sales or that piracy continues to undermine the very fabric of the creative process, and this pattern will continue until the music industry enjoys a protracted boom.

Sadly, the RIAA's current line of thinking and method of operation prohibits such a boom.

Without question, the lawsuits against children, parents and grandparents don't help the music industry's public relations campaign. Nor do advertisements portraying download-happy consumers as criminals. It is wrong to grab this music without compensating artists. That's clear. What isn't clear is if suing thousands of people a year to prove a point is a punishment that fits the crime or a strategy worth pursuing.

Lord knows, Bono put food on his table this Christmas, Britney Spears can still throw away her panties after a single use and Sheryl Crow can afford not to eat. It's a bit hard to feel sorry for these millionaires when a 12-year-old faces public scorn and thousands of dollars in fines for firing up this thing called Limewire.

In addition, the RIAA has not encouraged a diverse, healthy online music buying environment as some suggest.

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.