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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Teens' illegal music downloading going down

It's great to get free music, TV, and film off the Internet, but it's even better when you can get it fast – and that it's legal too maybe be a bonus but isn't a key issue. That's my take-away from a passel of recent stories and blog posts. Which spells a turning point for the music industry: piracy may have peaked. Thirteen-year-old Josh in New York may've said it all. His dad, a VC and a blogger, asked Josh how he's seeing all the episodes of his favorite TV show, "Friday Night Lights," afraid Josh will say "BitTorrent," the file-sharing technology millions of people use for free illegal downloading, but Josh just said "BitTorrent's too slow." He streams the shows with the family's Netflix's $24.95/mo. subscription. His dad wrote: "The good news is that, as the media business wakes up and puts all the media we want out there in streams available on the Internet (paid or free - this is not about free), we see people streaming more and stealing less." [Brad Stone of the New York Times picked up this story.] The Guardian cites a survey showing that Josh is not alone: "The number of teenagers [14-18] illegally sharing music has fallen dramatically in the past year." They're "using services such as YouTube and Spotify [the latter with 6 million users in Europe and now trying to break into the US market]." The Times also mentions MySpace Music and imeem among popular sources of licensed media streaming. In December 2007, 42% of teens were illegally downloading music, down to 26% this past January, The Guardian adds. Another study by NPD Group in the US found that teens 13-17 "illegally downloaded 6% fewer tracks in 2008 than in 2007, while more than half said they were now listening to legal online radio services like Pandora, up from 34% the year before," the Times reports. Here's similar coverage from ZDNET.

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