Lots of people have discussed this in the past, but the RIAA's focus on going after file sharing sites and online cyber lockers seemed to ignore the fact that so much music is actually shared on a person to person basis -- rather than online. But, there weren't any public numbers that showed the relative difference... until now. Torrentfreak got their hands on a "confidential" presentation put together for the RIAA by NPD, which shows pretty clearly that most of the "unpaid" music that people get comes from person to person copying
, via hard drive trading and burning/ripping from others. P2P and cyberlockers actually make up a relatively small percentage:
To be fair, I've found NPD's numbers to be suspect in the past, but they are one of the RIAA's favorite vendors for this kind of data. So, if even they're showing that online file sharing is relatively small, then that's at least noteworthy. The fact that this information had been kept "confidential" certainly suggests that the RIAA knows this highlights how all of their freaking out over online access to unauthorized content is exaggerated, and that people can and will find plenty of other ways to share.
One hopes that this doesn't presage more attacks on such person to person sharing either, but I wouldn't bet on it. Remember, we're talking about an industry which has regularly sought to plug the analog hole
. When we see proposals
in Congress that would effectively allow Customs officials to start searching hard drives and MP3 players, you have to wonder if the entertainment industry is really gearing up to go after this kind of sharing as well.
Of course, what would be much nicer (and a hell of a lot more effective) is if they finally woke up to the fact that this is a reality -- and that there are ways to deal with it
on the product and business model sides, rather than on the enforcement side. If they put one-tenth the effort into helping out with that as they do for pushing for greater enforcement, the online music landscape would look so incredibly different and would be so much better for everyone.