Music Industry Shoots Itself In Foot Over Illegal Downloads


So, perhaps the music industry should take a long hard look at itself. Always moaning about the widespread availability of illegal downloads online, and wondering why piracy continues to persist, well here’s one possible reason why that’s the case – apparently, most people don’t have the option of downloading content legally online anyway.

At least, that’s the findings of a recent report by the Mercatus Center think tank, which analyzed the weekly top ten most pirated media on file-sharing site TorrentFreak, before comparing this with the availability of said media from legal sources online, and publishing its results on

Their findings illustrate that the movie industry could probably curb a huge slice of online piracy simply by making the latest and most popular content easily and legally available to download, rather than by trying to sustain its business model with all manner of legal threats and takedown orders that it currently employs.

The Mercatus Center’s findings are pretty revealing. Over the last three weeks, not one of the ‘top picks’ on TorrentFreak was available to stream legally, while only 53% were for sale in any capacity, and just 20% available to rent online.

From the Washington Post:

In last week’s results, not a single film was available from streaming from services like Netflix or Amazon Prime. Only three of the top 10 films, The Lone Ranger, After Earth, and This is the End, were available for online rental… And just six of the top 10 movies (Pacific Rim, The Internship, The Lone Ranger, Monsters university, After Earth, and This Is the End) were available for online purchase.

And if you’re thinking that the last week might just be an anomaly, well, it’s not. has noticed the the same thing again and again, ever since the site first started up. Which means that, rather than griping and moaning all the time, the music and movie industry would perhaps be far better off by trying to help itself.

For sure there will always be some amount of piracy, but there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that most people are happy to pay for content legally, if the price is fair. More importantly we already know that legal content is hugely popular – just look at Apple, which rakes in billions of dollars a year from its iTunes store.

iTunes is the perfect example of the media industry’s stupidity. To begin with it fought tooth and nail against Apple over its iTunes pricing policy, as it wanted to be able to control this aspect of the business itself. But with the overwhelming success of the iPod, Apple was able to force the media industry into accepting its terms – and as we all know now, piracy has fallen substantially while both Apple and the media industry is making a fortune from iTune’s revenues.

Unfortunately, the media industry feels that it isn’t making quite as much money as it would like, hence its policy of taking digital pirates to court whenever possible, and its unpopular ‘six-strikes’ policy that wants to get those guilty of illegal file-sharing and downloads banned from the internet. But the fact is this policy isn’t working – all it does is bring bad publicity, ill-feeling from customers and perhaps a trickle of cash in compensation.

Piracy will always be with us, but it’s also true that most people would rather not break the law, and are more than happy to pay for content when they’re given the option of doing so. Hollywood, are you listening?