18th September 2012

Manchester named piracy capital of UK

In-depth study of the digital music industry shows that MCR has more illegal downloads per person than any other city

Manchester has been named the piracy capital of the UK in a study of the digital music industry.

The city is known for its strong musical heritage, but now has the crown for the highest number of illegal song downloads in the country.

Figures released in the Musicmetric study show 345 million songs were illegally downloaded in the first half of this year, of which Manchester had the highest number of per person.

Students are notoriously high-internet users, and with over 50,000 in the city, The Mancunion asked their opinions on music piracy.

“I don’t pay for music, does anybody these days? The last CD I bought was about 4 years ago. People don’t buy CDs any more so they’re going to download it and places like iTunes don’t have all the music you want anyway,” said second-year Joseph, studying for a degree in mental health nursing.

A Material Science and Engineering student felt the opposition to illegal downloading comes from record labels.

“I think it’s the record companies because the artists make shit all money on the sale of their CDs, they make the money off the gigs they play, you can’t pirate a gig, so I don’t think its affecting the bands, I think its affecting the companies who are promoting the bands,” said the second year. “I illegally download some things unless a small band in which case I buy it.”

Second year Electronic Engineering student Sofiane said, “I think the cost of a CD is too expensive, I can see why people illegally download.”

An exchange student from the United States of America studying medicine said the cost of music is why she downloads illegally.

“I want to say it’s wrong, but it’s so expensive. I heard they make most of their money from concerts so getting their music out might help more people go to their concerts.”

Nikia, another exchange student from USA said, “If you really like the artist then you will make the effort to buy it, but otherwise downloading it isn’t necessarily bad for them either because you’re still listening to it and getting their stuff around, I think it helps them.”

“If it was a little bit cheaper in the first place then maybe people wouldn’t do it so much,” said Becky Ryan, studying for a PGCE in Primary Education.

The report revealed UK-based BitTorrent consumption hit 43 million albums and singles were downloaded during the first half of 2012.

Overall the UK came second for the most illegal downloads in the world, having fewer only than the United States. Ed Sheeran was the most pirated artist in the country.

In a statement to the Mancunion, Pirate Party leader and Manchester Central by-election candidate Loz Kaye rubbished the report and condemned the British Phonographic Industry, representatives of the music industry.

“These figures don’t prove very much, other than the fact that Mancunians like music, and we’re leaders in using technology,” he said. “They are certainly not evidence of the BPI’s shrill claims that ‘a lot of people are getting very rich’ from so-called piracy.

“Plans threatening to throw entire households off the web for “piracy” are particularly dangerous. For students, do you really know what everyone in a shared house is doing on the same connection. And why should you be collectively targeted.

“Why music industry figures are complaining so much is that with a properly functioning Internet, the big players are no longer needed in the same way. We really should move on from this sterile debate.”

University of Manchester IT staff said illegal downloading hasn’t been a major issue.

“We have systems in place in our halls of residence which prevent illegal downloading,” read a university statement. “Our policies state that all IT activity must be legal, and if we are alerted to anything via a ‘cease and desist’ order, then we do take measures to remove individual machines from the network and follow the appropriate disciplinary procedure.”

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