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£15 a month for legal P2P?

UK pirates mull options: Pay or defy?

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Over a quarter of file sharers would pay £14.50 a month for a legal P2P service, according to new survey of UK downloaders. A quarter also agreed with ISPs blocking web sites as a countermeasure against infringement. But around a third of pirates (34 per cent) reckoned that ISP threats would make no difference at all to their download habits. Yarr.

The survey is law firm Wiggin's annual research into consumer and entertainment expenditure, this time conducted with Entertainment Media Research. You can compare the info-nuggets just published with those from a predecessor here, if you like. The survey comes up with some surprising results. In 2008 the same survey found 49 per cent of people thought DRM was a good idea. Moral: always take "an online consensus" with a large bag of salt.

Infringers were asked what they'd ideally be comfortable with paying for a legal P2P service, and were prompted with a range of fees from which to choose. 59 per cent opted for £3.00 to £3.50 a month. That's about the price of a pint of beer in the West End, or about 20 minutes of watching a Millwall FC game from a cheap seat, if you could watch Millwall by the minute from a cheap seat.

That's likely to be met with a slow hand clap and a raspberry from license holders, because of two unavoidable facts. Two thirds of broadband users don't do any infringing at all - they're just not interested. Either they don't like music - we were reminded recently that 44 per cent of the UK doesn't buy recorded music in any form - or they buy through legal channels. And secondly, as surveys have repeatedly shown, many infringers are music fans simply pursuing their interest, and many have a greater propensity to pay for music.

So it's in the interests of artists and their reps to cater to the real music fans with cash in their wallets, for they spend the most money. This means maximising income from a small part of the population. This is not going to be achieved by giving away the farm for a couple of magic beans. Or £35 a year…

Who spends what

High spending music fans also go hunting for unlicensed music - shock!

There are some subtle divisions amongst the labels when the topic comes up. The world's biggest major, Universal, has blessed unlimited downloads because it reckons it could capture more casuals this way. Indie boss Martin Mills recently told us that a low-cost unlimited service would hurt his roster of labels - their customers are music fans quite happy to buy stuff.

So unlimited deals, such as the Virgin-Universal venture, may hurt indies quite badly. £14.50 for P2P may do too, but less so.

There's a few more highlights from the study via Music Week, here. ®

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