If the music industry thinks that file sharing teens are the biggest problem it faces, it had better think again according to a new report into the digital piracy threat.
Speaking at the iTunes Music Festival in London last night, to an audience comprised largely of teenagers, Stephen Fry launched a somewhat surprisingly ferocious attack on how the entertainment industry tries to defend copyright interests in the digital age.
Fry said that when it came to pursuing file sharers "my business - the film business, the television business, the music business - is doing the wrong thing".
Fry thinks that it is preposterous to think that "someone who bit-torrents an episode of 24 is the same as someone who steals somebody's handbag". He has a good point, of course, but new research might suggest that such actions are having results.
The latest survey by The Leading Question, a specialist media and technology research agency, reveals that as far as UK teenagers are concerned they participate in the regular file sharing of music much less than they used to.
This time last year we were reporting how British teens average 842 illegal tracks per iPod but all that seems to have changed.
Indeed, the overall percentage of music fans file sharing on a monthly basis has gone down since the last national survey in December 2007 when the figure was 22 percent to just 17 percent in January 2009.
The 14 to 18 year old age group showed the biggest drop though, down from 42 percent in 2007 to 26 percent this year.
The bad news for the entertainment industry is that illegal copying has not stopped, but instead teens are turning to different methods of getting that musical fix. 31 percent now listen to streamed music every day, 65 percent every month, and more than ever are sharing burned CDS and bluetoothing tracks via mobile phones.
The good news is that more UK music fans are regularly buying single track downloads (19 percent) than file sharing single tracks (17 percent) every month, although the percentage of fans sharing albums regularly (13 percent) remains higher than those purchasing digital albums (10 percent).
Tim Walker, CEO of The Leading Question, told us: "Ultimately we believe that the best way to beat piracy is to create great new licensed services that are easier and more fun to use, whether that's an unlimited streaming service like Spotify or a service like the one recently announced by Virgin which aims to offer unlimited MP3 downloads as well as unlimited streams."
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