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Effects of Peer to Peer File Sharing on The UK Music Industry

by Suleman


            People like it ‘free’ when it comes to downloading from the internet. As internet is normally meant for sharing of information, the concept is hardly hit as the copyright material are also made available online by various file sharing websites inflicting huge monetary losses to the companies. Hummel, Lechner and Eikemeier (n.d. p.1) mentioned that peer to peer (p2p) seems to be synonym for the popular sharing of music and other kinds of digital data and the concept is definitely liked by the consumers which is evident from the fact that Napster, one popular p2p application, reaching 50 million user marks quicker than any technology. It is further stated that p2p technologies have become subject of many controversial discussions and red rag to the media industry because the technology is often used for the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material (Aichroth, Hasselbach, Thommes and Ullrich, n.d., p.47).  The music industry is suffering huge losses due to decrease in their sales of record labels which has given rise to legal sanctions ordering the closure of websites indulging in file sharing activities. The music industry has repeatedly expressed concern over potentially devastating impacts of online music sharing as mentioned by Bhattacharjee, Gopal, Lertwachara and Marsden (2006, p91) this is why the present study is proposed to examine the influence of p2p file sharing on the music industry in the United Kingdom and also to recommend viable ways to avoid the sharing of illegal content.

Effects of Peer to Peer File Sharing on The UK Music Industry and Possible

Aims and Objectives of the Study

The study aims at finding the influence on the UK music industry and the consequences of peer-to-peer file sharing to suggest viable solutions to tackle the issue which is increasing at a rapid pace among most of the interest users. The objectives of the study are:

  • To find the status of file sharing and music downloads in the United Kingdom,
  • To analyze the impact of file sharing on the music industry in UK and what are the legal solutions available for the music companies and
  • To recommend viable suggestions to protect the rights and stop illicit download of music by the users.


The researcher aims to implement the quantitative and qualitative approach for primary data collection in order to examine the effect on the UK music industry of p2p file sharing. For the purpose of research, EMI Music is selected as one of the world’s leading music firms and host to some of the most influential and best-known recording artists  (emimsic). This method was used so that correct details could be collected about their sales during past and present which will be compared so as to analyze the effect of p2p file sharing on the company. The data will also be collected from the company about the losses incurred by them due to file sharing and what are the technological and regulatory aid to keep recorded songs from being distributed unlawfully.  The data will be collected through well structured questionnaire in view of the importance of the subject so as to provide viable recommendations. The different set of questionnaires will be prepared and administered to marketing managers, distribution managers, sales managers, and account managers so that the data required achieving the objective of the study are collected. Apart from questionnaires, the same sample persons will be interviewed on different elements of judicial penalties and their regulations regarding how to avoid violations of copyright. Stratified sampling method has been selected for the study so that correct samples are selected in order to obtain accurate and meaningful data. It is further mentioned that necessary prior appointment with due approval for collection of primary data will be sought from the authorities explaining the purpose of the study. The secondary data will be collected from previous literary works and through review of various hardware and software so as to address the issue in present era.

Stages of Work

  1. Literature Review: 15 Days – Critical analysis of previous studies will be helpful in determining the questions while preparing questionnaire. Most of the data gathered during literature review form the part of secondary data.
  2. Primary Data Collection – 15 Days
  3. Data Analysis –                    15 Days
  4. Documentation –                 30 Days

Data Analysis

            The data collected will be analyzed in tabular and graphical format using MS Excel or SPSS. The details will be analysed in order to research the effect of file sharing on the UK music industry gathered from other secondary sources, assess the impact of file sharing and what steps have been taken to deter illicit copying of music online.


            The concern for piracy in music industry has grown rapidly over the years mainly because it has reduced the sales of record labels resulting in huge losses to music companies. It is necessary to note here, however that the essence of technology has changed as the success of music acts is short lived and shifts in the industry quickly which has given rise to artists joining the fight against piracy (cf. bized.co.uk). But Moya (2009) stated that record labels are the real losers from illegal file sharing as over the last five years, money received by musicians from both tours and recorded music purchases has gradually increased. Therefore, resolving the problem has become more necessary and essential for music businesses. Anderson (2009) mentioned that the net effect of illegal file sharing in the UK and elsewhere has been to reduce legitimate sales which have resulted in the decline of spending on recorded music. BitTorrent, Limewire, Napster, Kazaa, WinMX are some of the p2p applications that enable free download of data. P2P file sharing gained its prominence in 1999 with the release of Napster which allowed free downloading of files (Fogel-Concepcion, 2008, p.5). Though many of the applications have served with legal notice, BitTorrent still remains one of the favorite among the users to download music files. It is impossible to accurately calculate the cost to industry resulting from unlawful P2P file-sharing but as reported by BPI, UK music industry suffered revenue losses around £180 million annually (BIS, 2009, p.11). In view of the increasing illegal file sharing activities and mainly for downloading music files, it is necessary to make an in depth study into the legal sanctions made by the government to the issue, initiatives taken by the recording business in the UK and individual businesses.

  • Aichroth,P., Hasselback, J., Thommes, D and Ullrich M (n.d.) Legal P2P with Freebies, IDMT, Germany
  • Anderson, N (2009) Record labels keep blaming P2P, but it’s a hard sell, Arstechnica, arstechnica.com
  • Bhattacharjee, S., Gopal, R.D., Lertwachara, K and Marsden J.R (2006) Impact of legal threats on online music sharing activity: An analysis of music industry legal actions, Journal of Law and Economics, Vol, XLIX, The University of Chicago.
  • BIS – Department of Business Innovation and Skills (2009) Consultation on Legislation to address Illicit Peer to Peer (P2P) File Sharing, London.
  • com (2010) Research Project: The Music Industry: Facing New Challenges? Biz/ed, www.bized.co.uk
  • EMI Music (2010) About EMI Music, EMI Group Limited, http://www.emimusic.com
  • Fogel-Concepcion, Justin (2008) The Evolution and Security of BitTorrent, pages.csam.montclair.edu
  • Hummel, J., Lechner U and Eikemeier, C (n.d) Business Model Peer to Peer – Is there a future beyond filesharing? Dept. for Mathematics and Computer Science, University of Bremen
  • Moya, J (2009) Study: Artists earn more in an P2P world, ZeroPaid.com, zeropaid.com

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