Tough litigation against music file-sharers is achieving results, research shows, with the British record industry also now ready to take to the courts.
Recent litigation by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has led to 60 per cent of those who have downloaded music in the past saying they will download less in future, according to market research firm Music Forecasting (MF).
The MF survey shows that 58 per cent of illegal downloaders said they downloaded less music in September than in August. The RIAA's actions were known by 92 per cent of those surveyed.
One finding, though, provided support for the pro-download lobby, with 40 per cent of downloaders doing so to "aid purchasing decisions". A further 13 per cent said they "could not afford to pay for music at current prices."
Another finding was that 35 per cent of consumers object to paying full price for a CD that only contains one song they like – so use the Internet to obtain that one song.
Courting trouble The British Photographic Institute, meanwhile, has warned that it may use the courts to fight its corner. BPI executive chairman Peter Jamieson told a music-industry conference in Manchester last week that he "didn’t take this job in order to sue music fans" but that the BPI will "not rule it out", that "it is a matter of survival for the business I love".
Blaming "anarchists", Jamieson said illegal downloading has "already gone too far and is tipping the industry into crisis".
He added: "The fact is that people who steal music are not only ripping off artists and record companies, they are ripping off honest music fans. Somebody has to pick up the tab.
"The fact that a shoplifter occasionally or even mainly gets their wallet out and buys things legitimately does not make them immune from prosecution."
Apple's iTunes Music Store is widely regarded as setting the standard and the strategy for legitimate music-download services, and is currently selling 500,000 tracks a week.
With established links with the movie industry, Apple is well-poised to seize another emerging digital-distribution opportunity – the rise of music distribution services will also drive the market for online video-subscription and movie-on-demand services, claims analysts In-Stat/MDR.
MDR predicts the market for subscription video streaming services, including movie downloads, will grow from $991 million in 2003 to over $4.5 billion in 2007.