Update: Swappers Scared Off Swapping?
Just as I thought, ordinary folk have been scared away from MP3 filesharing after the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) started to get heavy a few months back. With record companies filing lawsuits against users of online file swapping services — essentially folk swapping bootleg music via the Internet — traffic at such sites seems to have dropped off by about a quarter.
The Register quotes market watcher NPD as calculating that 14.5 million US households downloaded music files in April. In May the figure fell to 12.7 million, and dropped to 10.4 million in June, the month the RIAA started getting heavy. On closer inspection, The Register says, the figures suggest that while hard-core downloaders are grabbing ever more tracks for themselves, more casual punters are holding fire.
This could all change. The RIAA last week pledged not to pursue small-scale downloaders, so could they all come swimming back? My tuppennies’ worth: Let the small fry do it. It’s a great way to check out new music. Most of them will then buy legit copies, if the price is right. For the big fish, they’re easy to spot, and easy to prosecute.