US$69bn worth of unlicensed music shared over peer-to-peer networks

17 Nov 2008

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A new online market for fair market value music via peer-to-peer (P2P) networks has emerged, representing US$69bn in potential revenue that the music industry has failed to capture.

Until now, unlicensed music via P2P networks has been considered the result of piracy, but, in this case, a whopping US$69bn worth of music based on fair market value per track is changing hands.

“A US$69bn figure is staggering to contemplate, but it effectively illustrates the impact of piracy on the music industry,” said Rick Sizemore of MultiMedia Intelligence.

“It is important to note that piracy has expanded well beyond music. Content owners of TV episodes and full-length movies are seeing a growing impact. This is precisely why efforts from groups such as the DCIA (Distributed Computing Industry Association) and those related to digital fingerprinting (eg MySpace and MTV) are vital to foster a ‘safe’ environment – one conducive to growth and maturation.

“With an ever-burgeoning flow of content over the digital pipes, the need for efficient distribution becomes all the more vital, and we would be remiss to think of P2P exclusively as a tool for pirates,” Sizemore said.

MultiMedia Intelligence’s new research also found that the number of unlicensed full-length movies ‘shared’ will grow almost four times from 2007 to 2012 – although the number of video files will remain smaller than music.

Not all P2P content is unlicensed. The grow rate for licensed content files distributed over P2P networks is much higher than unlicensed, although it is fair to note that we are starting from a much smaller base.

P2P internet traffic, despite having grown at a torrid pace for years, will grow almost 400pc over the next five years, growing from a level of 1.6 petabytes of internet traffic per month in 2007 to almost 8 petabytes per month by 2012.

By John Kennedy

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com