Is piracy really a Mega problem?

I was reading an article on the BBC site tonight about whether piracy was a MEGA problem obviously alluding to the new and wildly successful Mega website.  They seemed to focus on problems regarding piracy, such as:

Richard Atkinson, head of software company Adobe’s piracy unit, said that 55 million “illegal activations” of pirated versions of the photo-editing software had occurred in the last year.

Hollywood loses close to $20.5bn (£13bn) to movie piracy in a year, according to a report published by the US Institute for Policy Innovation.

But yet, a number of studies have debunked claims like this, saying:

Piracy may be the bane of the music industry but according to a new study, it may also be its engine. A report from the BI Norwegian School of Management has found that those who download music illegally are also 10 times more likely to pay for songs than those who don’t.


One of the most comprehensive studies into media sharing and consumption habits in the United States and Germany reveals that file-sharers buy 30% more music than their non-sharing counterparts. The result confirms that file-sharers are actually the music industry’s best customers. In addition, the research reveals that contrary to popular belief, offline “copying” is far more prevalent than online music piracy.

This is exactly the opposite of what the RIAA is promoting, where their claim is that file shares are causing them billions of dollars of lost income.

Besides which, this completely avoids the basic fact that users are flocking to simply because they do not want big brother snooping on them and having access to their personal files, not because they want to do illegal things.  The basic premise that users are innocent until proven guilty does not seem to hold water with the anti-privacy groups who want the NSA to have access to all our data that goes into the cloud and gets stored on non-encrypted services.  Luckily coes to the rescue with free file storage with encryption.

In any case, is and Kim Dotcom to blame?  Clearly not, as is shown by the fact that even though has over a million users, they have had only 150 copytight takedown notices compared with millions this month for google.

Having said that, the takedown process itself is just plain silly.  During the past month copyright holders asked Google to remove 12,045,130 webpages from its search. It goes without saying that not all of these requests are legitimate.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the USA with the new 6 strikes law, and whether the world will wake up to the reality that the claims the RIAA makes are not always the gospel.

Comments are welcome, or send me feedback on twitter

About andy dingfelder

Andy is a CISO/CTO in the fintech sector with over 20 years of experience in Software Delivery and Team Leadership in multiple industry domains. Master's Degree (MPA) in Public Administration Information Systems and over 10 years of board governance experience for multiple organisations. Full bio is available at: and links available at or follow him on Twitter at Andy lives in the Wellington region, New Zealand with his wife and two daughters.
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