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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 January, 2004, 09:46 GMT
UK song-swappers 'could be sued'
compact discs
The UK record industry is concerned about piracy
The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) has warned it may sue people who swap songs on the internet illegally.

The trade group's director general, Andrew Yeates, said it was hoping to encourage new, legitimate services.

"We want to increase awareness of the legal implications of file-sharing. If these are not working, there has to be a degree of enforcement," he said.

The BPI said the "disturbing increase" in piracy was making legal action against users "increasingly likely".

Your views on the issue

"The music industry will defend its rights under the law whether it is against traders selling illegally copied CDs on market stalls, or people uploading illegally over the internet," a spokesman said.

"The BPI has made no final decision on taking legal action, but nobody should be in any doubt that such uses of filesharing networks are illegal and are harming the health of British music. We will take legal action if we are forced to."

Industry-backed services such as iTunes, which is widely used in the US, are expected to be launched in Europe later this year, and the BPI wants to encourage users to switch to these when they are launched.


Computer user with CD

Mr Yeates said if they were successful and illicit song-swapping levels fell, legal action may not be necessary.

Record firms in the US have already started cases against file-sharers.

But the Recording Industry Association of America's (RIAA) actions generated bad publicity after it emerged a 12-year-old girl had been targeted, along with a 66-year-old grandmother who was alleged to have been downloading rap records.

Speaking at a London conference about music and technology, Mr Yeates said any legal crackdown would be "proportional".

Talks were taking place with internet service providers across Europe to streamline a process for identifying those who distribute the most songs, he said.

Healthy sales

The move comes despite healthy album sales for the UK industry.

Album sales in the UK rose by 7.6% in 2003 to a record high, fuelled by falling CD prices.

But the singles market continues to fall - with a drop of 30% last year.

A BPI spokesman told BBC News Online: "We had a great year for albums last year because of the amount of great music around, but the singles market is in decline because it's so easy to download the track from the internet instead of buying them."

Critics of the music industry's legal action say it is not proportional to the problem of file-sharing piracy.

They argue that the world-wide music market is falling as it competes with an explosion in DVD and video game sales.

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This Have Your Say is now closed. Read a selection of your views below.

Absolutely pathetic. The music industry should cut its losses. They will never stop file sharing, because that's all the net is, file sharing. Give up now, and don't waste your money suing people. It makes me laugh at how they think just because they are big business they can regulate the net.
Tom Cooper, UK

Free digital music for everyone is causing the industry sleepless nights? Then why aren't they worried about the impending Digital DAB radio broadcasts, which will distribute this material much more quickly and effectively? Anyway, if you want to listen to any chart single, why bother to spend time downloading it - just flick on your nearest Radio station - and Hey Presto!...
Steve Mead, Dunstable, Beds

Why should I spend all my money on expensive music, when I can download it for nothing?
Jack Sparrow, Innsbruck, Austria

They forget the fact that the vast majority of people who download songs then go on to buy the albums of artists they like.

Perhaps if record companies put more effort into real music, rather than making a quick buck off of the under 16s who buy generic pop singles, people might start buying.

Playing an Mp3 is not the same as the experience of owning a cd, and people who can afford cds will invariably buy them.
Rob Stevens, Stoke

Why does the BPI think people who swap songs have disposible incomes to buy music CDs? Most file-sharing users wouldn't normally go out and buy 20 CDs in a year. The music industry's numbers don't really add up - but that's all they whinge about.
Danny, Hong Kong

It'll never stop. Even if media sharing is completely outlawed, those who know what they are doing will always find a way to pass it around on the net. The content will remain the same, but your average user will be weeded out... which I suppose is a good thing really.
Alek Hayes, London

With consumer laws these days, if you buy something and find that the product doesn't suit you when you get home - you have the right to return it and get your money back. If you don't like a product - you don't buy it in the first place. With cds however, this is not the case. With an average cd of 10 songs - you will only like 6 of them. Why are earth are we being forced to pay money for items we don't actually want and that we consider to be of poor standard and quality?

The whole music industry needs to completely rethink the way it sells its products. I think that online you should be able to download at least 2 minutes worth of a song to see if you like it, and then have the option to pay for a full download.
Jay, London

It's not always the record labels ripping people off, big name shops are ripping people off just as badly. I found an album selling for 16 in HMV, I saw it the next day at a smaller shop in central London for 8 quid, it wasn't a pirate copy either. How can the big names afford to add another 8 quid to the price of a CD? How come it's only the small no name shops who sell albums at decent prices? I'd rather download the music than be ripped off by a big store, and I'm not going to change my mind until they change their prices.
Benjamin, London, England

Simple idea to reduce piracy. Have a CD burner in shops connected to a self service kiosk machine containing all the tunes available for purchase. Let the buyer decide exactly what tunes they want on the disc and in what order. For me the main attraction of MP3s is that i can create custom playlists and do not have to keep messing about changing CDs every 5 minutes. When you pay 15 for an album you only usually want half the tunes on there, you just have to keep skipping the rubbish you don't want to hear and that becomes very tiresome.

I have a 10MB/s internet connection and can get a tune off the filesharing networks in under a minute so why the hell would I go any pay 15 of my hard-earned cash for a CD which only contains a few tunes I actually want?

Common sense, people!!!!!
Sam, Midlands, UK

I am not prepared to spend 14.99 on an album unless I think that I will like that artist.

The use of file swapping software has meant that I have downloaded mp3s of artists who I have not heard music by, virtually unknown artists who do not have the marketing drive behind them that the latest pap peddled out by Mr Cowell etc does. Consequently I have gone out and bought albums by a few artists who I had never heard of.

CD single sales have been falling for years because the public is fed up with tedious one hit wonders. That's why albums sales are at record levels!
Steven, UK

Being a musician I see MP3s, if anything, helpful to the industry. Being a new band it's almost impossible to pay for promotions and full CD Production, but MP3 gives millions of people the chance to download the tracks. I use filesharing all the time, but still spend a sizable portion of my wage on CDs & DVDs, which everyone must agree, are better quality and still a better way of storing music that I wish to keep.
Ben, Norwich, Norfolk

I think there is room for a 'try before you buy' market, or a limited play market. I found some old tapes from the 80s that I'd recorded from friends, or they'd said you must listen to this - most of which I have bought the LP or CD, the others were discarded or recorded over. CDs are expensive if you decide after 2 or 3 times you don't really like it, yet I wouldn't have bought some albums unless I'd heard them repeatedly. What fraction of sales loss really are the downloaders, certainly when some huge fraction (one third I believe) of CDs are pirated?
Steve, Yorkshire

I think it stupid getting sued for downloading music of the net 'cause it's cheaper and easier for those who can't be bothered to go out and get the stuff they want.
Charlotte, England

Typical comments from an lazy industry too fattened by a previously captive market and unwilling to move with the times.

Despite all the crocodile tears from the BPI and the US RIAA I wonder how much money most musicians get from each CD sale, or each track sold for 99 cents via iTunes?

There are other methods of selling music, I don't know how successful ( financially) systems such as Weed share have been but they have a more ethical and fairer approach to selling and distributing music and allowing people to discover new talents.
Nigel Brodt-Savage, UK

Since you re-opened this story for comment results have been published showing music sales UP 7.6% in the UK, but the difference is 30 to 40somethings are using the internet to BUY the albums, as 6.50-9 is perfectly reasonable for an album rather than younger "fans" who are downloading. Suing is a harsh step but some people don't see it as stealing, which it is, and there are ways to buy it more cheaply - the same net connection used for file sharing can find the sites selling albums for under a tenner. Price excuse removed, some just rip music off because they can.
Ken, London, UK

People resent the millions of pounds that are earned by people other than the "artists" that sing on records but don't put any talent into the material. It's about time the industry reorganised itself rather than struggling to not change.

It's high time that 4 big companies stopped controlling 95% of music, and reorganise to let the smaller companies who can't get exposure because they're priced out the market to create some competition.

Tape was the death of music, and the tape format has died long before music has.
Paul Kerton, UK

So sue me ...........
Gerald, Kent

I am suprised to see the BPI "you must follow law otherwise there will be anarchy" not mentioning the fact that the music "industry" has been repeatedly rapped over the knuckles for price fixing and overcharging consumers. I file share and am proud of it! I have 150 albums, 400 singles and nearly 150 DVDs. I will stop sharing music on the internet when the BPI members refund me the 300+ that the industry watchdogs say that I have been overcharged due to price fixing cartels in the industry.
Vish, UK

The only people hurting the music industry are Pete Waterman and his like by turning out the same old rubbish for 20 years. Give it a rest Pete, go buy a small country or something and play with their lives for a while.
Gary, Morpeth, Northumberland

If the music industry really is going to suffer as a result of file sharing over the internet then they should form alliances with the software companies that provide these file sharing facilities. This could result in a sensible system whereby users can login and pay a subscription in order to use the service for various periods of time. Alternatively, the system could charge a "soundtrack tax" for every successful download.
Simon Brunton, London

Basic human rights. I wish to personally enjoy a tune which I have heard but which is virtually impossible to buy due to age of tune and popularity of it.There are plenty of very old continental folk songs that keep traditions alive which are can be passed on to our children and so forth. Fair enough, those caught - and I emphasise caught - downloading song less than 2 years old should be liable (which due to the rubbish out nowdays will probably be mainly under 16s) therefore what happens then?Totalitarian. What will they do next? Prosecute me for 'whistling' Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head?
Anon, London UK

The BPI seem to have no respect for the people who keep them in business. Not only are they trying to sue people in this way, they are also suing companies like cd-wow and play who are selling legitimate cds to UK customers at something approaching reasonable prices.
Leo Sarafin, Wanstead, England

I think it's idiotic that legal action is even being considered against those that download music - as is the reasoning. To say that music file-sharers are killing the financial viability of the industry is complete rubbish - they only have to look at the disgusting amounts of money given to 'artists' (I use the word very loosely) such as Robbie Williams to find that the rot is spreading from within.

I, like many others, use these music-sharing applications to 'try-before-I-buy', and indeed have spent several hundred pounds in the last year alone on various albums. People who download music for profit (the REAL pirates) are wrong, but the vast majority use it to gauge the latest musical influences. If the radio wasn't so full of marketed rubbish I daresay I would use that medium for exactly the same purpose.
Richard, Kings Lynn

I want PROOF that file sharing affects record sales, cos I simply don't believe it! Suing file sharers is simply a novel way of record companies making more money because the copyright law is on their side.
Dan, UK

I think the newly-launched Ferrari is massively overpriced. Does that mean I can steal one from a showroom and escape prosecution? Sadly, no it doesn't. If you think something is overpriced then vote with your wallet and don't buy it. Claiming that "fat cats" made you steal is disingenuous at best.
Tony, London, England

I can see good reason for the BPI to take some action - a wee bit like the American's enforcing UN resoulutions in Iraq. Laws have to be enforced or they are pointless and ignored. At least they are thinking using their heads rather than their profits (although we have yet to see what "proportional" means). I like it that they appear to not be taking legal action until legal music download sites are available in the UK (what's taking so long!).

This will give law abiding citizens the change to change their habits. Once singles are available at sensible prices, whether online or in shops, piracy will surely die down again! The BPI is trying to balance the best needs of cutomers and artists and so I praise them for not blindly following the RIAA.
Peter, N. Ireland

Amazing. One minute, the chant is "file swapping is ruining CD sales". Then, they say CD sales are up 7.6%.

New chant: "Oh wait, no we meant CD single sales - file swapping is ruining those sales, not the other ones."

A quick look at the charts shows practically nothing of any interest for the average 16+ buyer.

Put rubbish out and no-one will want to buy it. And that's exactly what's happening.
Andrew Webb, Inverness

I think the number of e-mail responses to the article, and the similar contents of each, says it all. The record industry is not listening to the consumer. The price of a CD album should be reduced to that of a single.
Stuart, Manchester, England

They had better have a lot of lawyers if they're going to sue us all.
Anon, London

Legality aside, wasn't the internet intended for the sharing of information, the way things are going now it won't be long before everything on the internet you do costs money and yet another frontier of freedom is replaced by the dull visage of corporate money making companies.
John Warton, Sheffield, UK

I believe that more people would voluntarily pay a pound or so per track, if they knew the majority of the money was going to the artists, not a corporate pocket. There also has to be a new platform to provide this type of service, offered by the major labels. These big companies should realise that you cannot stop the revolution in the music industry; they should roll with it and come up with creative ways to win a respectful revenue that benefits both consumers and artists.
Christina, Canterbury, UK

I don't see many recording artists taking second jobs to afford to live like me and many of my friends are doing. Yet we are expected to pay way over the odds for music CDs. I download files to see if I like them then buy them when I can afford to. So if downloading is stopped I for one will buy less not more CDs.
Rob, Brentwood , Essex

Like almost all of the replies here I say to the industry "put your house in order" and allow me to legally download music or buy it on CD/DVD at a reasonable price. Pay the artists a fair rate, after all it's them and the customers that are the life-blood! And Artists - please don't whine about it, if you want more for yourselves (regardless of the morality of it), go independent!
Ian Catlin, Reading UK

If the downloading of music by every man and his dog is responsible for a drops in sales in singles - why isn't this also reflected in albums? They reached an all time high in 2003, and downloading albums is hardly any more difficult than downloading singles ... Clutch. Straws. At.
Marty, UK

The singles market was in sharp decline before filesharing came on the scene due to a change in the listening and buying habits of the British public, apparently related to the launch of CDs.

If Mp3s were available for download at a reasonable price filesharing would become a thing of the past and action by the BPI would be unnecessary.
Richard T, Newton Abbot, UK

So obviously albums are vastly overpriced! I'm on an average wage, I have to work two hours of my life to buy some music. I want to see the justification of the prices of products. Oh yeah, and lets not forget how many millions of albums are sold out there. It's just pure and utter greed.
Sam, Tunbridge Wells, Kent

It's not about the cost of music in the shops, it's about distribution of the music to those who want it.

You have mainstream media playing the Top40 24/7, music on TV is a repeated mix from a computer and magazines follow hyped marketed bands like The Darkness. People have been recording music since the Top 40 was first aired on Radio. Distribution of music with mp3 or ogg or even internet radio allows people to hear the great music they want and when they want it.

The solution for the fat cats is simple - get your music distributed and played on the artist talent not on the market revenue.
Chris Whitlock, East Yorkshire

Yesterday it was reported that UK album sales are at an all time high so it seems odd to claim that file-sharing damages music sales. I would like to suggest that file-sharing benefits music sales in the same way that broadcasting music over the radio can increase music sales. Incidentally, music broadcast via radio can be copied just as easily as music copied via the internet so what action are the BPI going to take against those found recording radio broadcasts?
Barry, UK

Piracy is a major problem. Every day, boats are being boarded, and the occupants being robbed of their belongings. Sometimes, lives are lost. I agree. This must be stopped. Copyright infringement, on the other hand, is not that big of a problem, and the music industry will never be able to control the sharing of data, no matter how many lawsuits they file.. Just ask the RIAA how well that works, with 60 million filesharers in the U.S. alone!!!!!!
Barry, Portland, USA

The swapping of music has been around ever since tape recorders became popular. The internet has only increased the anonymity of doing so.

Single sales are in decline because the charts are aimed at the under 16 who now have mobile phones and various other attractions to separate them from their cash.

Yes, there are probably people out there who download and never buy, but there are people out there who download AND buy music. There are numerous albums out there that are simply not available in this country and so downloading is the only option.

If the recording corporations put money into promoting original bands and original artists instead of going for the quick buck with disposable manufactured "pop-idols", they might find more people would buy CDs.
Paul, Edinburgh, Scotland

Look at what is back in the album charts. Dido's No Angel. Why? Because it has been reduced in price to 4.99. If CDs were cheaper then a lot of people would not bother to swap files or make copies.
Geoff Bank, Bradford

They should be targetting the car boot sales in my area. Every Sunday I count at least seven or eight stalls selling hundreds of counterfeit CDs.
Paul Harts, Walsall

For decades the music industry has been ripping off the public over extortionate pricing of records and cds - it's about time music lovers got something back. Pop stars are extravagantly overpaid, as are songwriters, producers etc. the only reason they will want to tighten up on downloading of music is so they will be able to have an extra ferarri on the drive of their mansions. What's the point of fining families on benefits? Youngsters? Teenagers? Pensioners? It would cost more to take to court than it's worth, who will sit in judgement? Just another freedom being taken away..
KC, London

I wont beat around the bush. I download music and wont stop however cheap cds are. Does this mean I don't buy cds? No, in fact I have bought more cds since the online services were introduced than I ever have before. The one difference is that I am more selective in what I buy.
Andy, UK

In the last 3 months - not including those I bought or recieved as Christmas gifts, I have bought 6 albums. I don't mind doing this becuase the bands I bought all had good quality albums with videos, booklets, access to extra websites. I have never bought a single in my life because it's a complete waste of time - most of it it worthless garbage generated by random pop groups chosen for their faces.

A lot of the albums I buy are because I download a song I've heard about then go and buy the album if I like it. The quality of downloadable music is often not great so this makes sense and I probably wouldn't buy half the albums I do if I didn't download songs.
John, Swansea

There is a lot of confusion over this issue... Are all of these file-sharing and P2P networking programmes illegal? Just some of them? Which ones are legal? And if they are all illegal, why haven't they been shut down? Please help sort this confusion out.
Henry Griffiths, Newport Wales

How about if they actually released some original music? As a keen music fan I have a music collection of several hundred CDs, however over the last few years I've not bought many CDs. Not because of a lack of will or downloading, but because the majority of the music is diabolical in this country. There are hundreds of decent bands on the continent whose music I would love to buy yet I can only get it on import at a high price.

Maybe if the record industry invested in some fresh talent with original music styles and songs then they would see sales go up. All there seem to be is clone bands rehashing songs from the 70s and 80s, and the original is usually far better than their pathetic effort.
Jason, Milton Keynes, UK

I got the latest Coldplay album for 5 online (including shipping from the Far East) a week after release. At that price, it was hardly worth the effort of trawling the net for the MP3s - plus I had something that looked nicer on the bookcase than a bunch of electronic files on a generic CDR. To me, the solution to illicit sharing of MP3s is simple - make CD based music more desirable and cheaper to own.
Chris Graham, London, UK

The British record industry has no one but itself to blame for the downturn in UK singles sales. By perpetuating the here today, gone tomorrow pop idol culture, it has criminally undermined the value of the pop single.
Martin Dunn, Worthing, UK

Exactly what people have been saying all along. If the price were cheap enough to begin with then people would go BUY the album. I thought record companies listened to their consumers, aprarently not too well. We've been crying out for a ligitimate way of downloading music for years so that we could pay for it. Afriad they can't stop technology, no matter how hard they try!
Derek, UK

Until music is priced at a reasonable price (especially for emerging artists) downloading will probably still prevail. If prices were reasonable people would much prefer to buy the music - even downloading an album in the US is not much cheaper than a retail copy. Not much of an incentive for people. Too much greed in the music industry still.
Vince, England

Now here's an idea: the multinational music conglomerates reduce the price of CDs to a level that "truly" reflects costs, offers a bonus maybe in the form of video/DVD extras, and it may make people feel they are getting value for money. As it often is, you pay 14 for 40mins of music and that's usually it!

Sounds like simple economics and marketing have been forgotten.
David Simons, Derby, UK

Is it just me that finds the whole idea of "a single" a very pointless waste of time and money. Normally with one track and a bad re-mix vertion causing you to have to change disk after every track. Fine for the 50s record generation but in the modern world it is a product that has no point anymore. The music industry should give the whole idea up and focus on making good albums.

Besides music has become stale and needs a shake up. In the past as one sound ran out of steam another was ready, but here we are in 2004 and as far as music stands it might as well still be 1991.....
Robert, Surrey, UK

I disagree with suing people for sharing songs. I download songs to see if I like them, if so I will go out and buy the album. Am fed up with buying albums that have one song I like then the rest is rubbish, if they improve the albums then people will buy them.
Simon Jones, Wallasey

I think that 5 for a CD single is way too expensive. As long as artists like Robbie Williams are attracting sums like 80 million from EMI, I fail to see why it should be the consumer who subsidises the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Until music is a reasonable price, people will continue to download it.

Also, why don't the music manufacturers make their product more attractive? Many CDs these days just have a single sheet paper insert and a basic protective case, not even a decent booklet. Therefore the package on sale is not really any more attractive than downloading the song and burning it to a CD.
Andy C, Lancaster, UK

Do people actually know which song download applications are legal and approved by the BPI?
L, Yorkshire

The main problem the singles market has is that songs started to be played on the radio about 2 months before the single is actually released - therefore by the time it is released people are bored of the song and dont want to purchase the single.

Also the cost of a single is roughly 4 but you can buy the album through supermarkets or online for as little as 9 so it makes more sense to buy an album with up to 15 songs rather than a single that has possibly 4 of the same song.
Justin Crews, Plymouth, Devon

When will the music and film industries realise that they will never stop piracy. They will not even make minor inroads into piracy unless they start to look within. They need to ask themselves why a normally law abiding citizen wants to copy or illegally download songs or films. The reason? Because CDs and DVDs are massively overpriced (especially CD singles).

The industry keeps complaining that revenues are falling, so why are the fat cats still earning ludicrous amounts of money, while the artists are loosing out? Stop spending vast amounts of money on a futile effort to stop piracy through the courts (and annoying the hell out of music fans through the use of insane copy protection which stops legitamate copying) and instead change the culture within the industry.
Lee, Birmingham

I agree to an extent that piracy is a problem but I think the problem lies in the fact that a single costs nearly half that of an album. Why would you pay 3.99 for a CD single when you can download it for free. People do like to have an actual CD rather than a file on a hard drive. This is why album sales are higher. I would buy an album but I don't buy singles.

If I could get singles for the proportionate price (say 1.50 - 2.00) then I would buy them but I would not pay 3.99 for a single when I can get the album for 9.99. It doesn't make sense that they are so expensive. If the industry is flagging with singles sales maybe they should look at the reason in their own back yard before blaming file sharers.
Ben Gilbert, Queens Park, London

The reason for the awful single sales, is the awful music on them. When good songs come out, more people will buy them. change your tune BPI.
James Lawless, UK

I think that when we are faced with either paying 13 or so for a CD at HMV or 7.99 for the same CD online at play.com, the choice seems fairly obvious. These websites actually promote competition for lower prices and the buying of CDs because they are so cheap. Indeed, I have bought more records as a result. If they were closed down or I were forced to pay much more, then I would have to be far more selective or I would rather not buy the CD at all. Consumers just do not seem to have the fair end of the deal in England.
Natalie Chung, London, U.K.

I can borrow a CD from a friend, what's the difference? Is it just because the music industry is losing its ability to maintain their extravagant, well rewarded lifestyle? Maybe, just maybe, their time has come and gone.
Gareth Hawkins, London UK

I think it is completely unfair to target file swappers, the internet was introduced to share things across the world, so why not music? I think that music experts are blaming file sharing for the fall in music sales. I believe that music nowadays is all about commercial activities and these have been exhausted and overrun, the music out now is all manufactured and full of celebrities.

I believe that music experts have drained the music industry themselves, there used to be a time when a song was released, played on Top of the Pops and people would want to listen to it so much they would go and buy it, now there are over 20 music channels, more radio stations, intenet radio and so on, so why buy it when you hear it 24/7?
Andre Nash, Bucks

The only way that songs nowadays get publicised and heard all over the world is through the internet - it's a fact! There is nothing anyone can do to prevent this - it is impossible to stop song trading - if you stop the major software providers of file sharing, other means will develop and other minor packages will be developed and used. It's a vicious circle.

The IT underworld will always be 100 steps ahead of any industry following the bull of the law!

I know hundreds of people that have just stopped going to HMV/Virgin to buy CDs or movies in fact - the iInternet is easy, fast, cheap and reliable. I think it is high time that money is saved from CD production - and more invested in secure and legal forms of music sharing online.

Change the law - too much red tape - Look beyond the business/industry, see what the people actually want - and use this demand to make money other ways!
S Chotai, London

No, it's not OK for the BPI to sue users over online piracy whilst suing distributors for selling legally made but much cheaper versions of the CDs we are constantly ripped off for.

The whole record industry needs a shake up - from mandatory investment in real talent (rather than off the shelf rubbish) to a need to start relating to their prospective audience.

Until then long live Kazaa, Grokster et al. (I don't use them though as most of my CDs come from independent labels who charge reasonable prices for their artists material and include try before you buy material on their websites - watch and learn big boys or be prepared not to be big for much longer).
Nik Kellingley, York, England

I'm not a file sharer myself but I do download MP3s from band sites and mp3.com. I use these to test the water with new bands (a lot of bands I wouldn't have heard of if I didn't do this) before spending my cash on CDs. If it wasn't for these downloads the amount of CDs I buy would be no where near as many as I do (averaging at least one CD a week!).

Granted, there are a lot of people out there downloading tracks without ever buying CDs but I can't help but feel that if the record industry made a bigger effort to produce quality product then the fall in CD sales globally could very well stop. There is far too much useless pap being released, with every major label finding their next Britney for a fast buck. The industry has changed and I for one wouldn't want to be in a band trying to make it.

As for the CD single market, why would you spend a third of the price of an album for an album track, possibly a remix and maybe a live track? This makes no sense and until the record industry realises that CD singles are not worth the money the better.
Darren, Reading

Clearly this is not about piracy, this is about profits. If the industry is so concerned with the drop in the singles market, why don't they drop the prices of CD singles? I refuse to buy a single for 3.99 when I can buy the album for 9.99. Many people use file-sharing to find a favourite song they remember from a long time ago. If all songs, past and present release, were widely available to buy seperately and inexpensively, perhaps the public would be more inclined to start buying music again.
Victoria Porter, Leeds, England

Perhaps the BPI would like to look at the general feeling of discontent with the content of the charts as to the drop in single sales. I can think of no singles from the last year that I would want to buy, knowing full well that I was planning to get the album at a later date.
James, Nottingham

So far the BPI has been postively enlightened compared to the actions on the RIAA. To blame everything on file trading is a very naive position to take. The state of the music in the charts may well have something else to do with dropping sales.

Equally the official music download schemes place heavy restrictions upon the music you buy, for example only allowing you to burn it to cd 3 times. If I pay for music, it's mine and I want to listen to it anywhere I feel like.
Mark Seagrief, Bristol, UK

Album sales have reached a record high in the UK and the record companies still claim to be suffering. At the same time if there's no legitimate means of obtaining MP3s for all the portable players in the UK surely they are encouraging swapping. Their financial results are falling because the price of CDs in ripoff Britain is falling.
James, London

The BPI is pointing the finger wrongly here when it comes to the decline in the singles market. CD singles in the US disappeared long ago, and they're seeing the same here: who's going to pay 3 or 4 for a single and a few remixes when you can pay 9 and get a whole album from online retailers? Singles used to be used as a 'taster' for albums, but that concept is long gone now. The attempts to add value to singles by including videos will work for die-hard fans, but, for people who just want good music, the choice is a no-brainer. If it came to buying the single or doing without, I know which I'd go for.
Andrew K, Reading, UK

I'll tell you a nice way to get decent music out. Search for bands on the net that sell self-released albums. Buy their CD or download their songs from P2P nets, and donate as much as you think on their paypal account. Oh sorry, the big buffs on the big companies won't be able to fund their lear jets if that becomes common practice now would they...
Stephan Thaark, UK

Of course CD single sales are falling. What do you expect when there are limits to what can be included on a CD single for it to be eligible to count towards chart ratings. There are now only 3 songs per CD, limits to the playable duration of a CD and the price is high. Some artists resort to releasing 2 CD singles to be able to include additional mixes and extras.

The UK music fans are being ripped off by the industry regulations. Import singles which are for sale to the rest of the world have many more extras and mixes at a lower price. When will they learn that the UK public are not stupid and will not pay for minimal content on CD singles! Before these regulations were introduced we used to enjoy singles with twice the songs and content there is now.
Colin Smith, Havant, UK

They say the singles market is declining because of downloads. Perhaps it's because nobody wants to pay 4 for one track they want and two "extras" any more. There's also the minor point of having to trek out to the music store for a single track - a waste of time. The sooner iTunes and the like are available over here, the better.
Muel, UK

The industry is going after internet sellers such as play.com and cd wow that sell cheaper legal CD's. If they manage to stop these comapanies, more people will start downloading music.
Jason Brown, Newcastle, UK

What I want to know is, why is it that when the music industry is making money hand-over-fist it's because of the quality of their product and good management, but when times are hard it's someone else's fault?
Martin, Loughborough, UK

My perception of the music industry is that there seem to be a lot of people other than the artists making a lot of money - which begs the question "Who are the music industry trying to protect by suing"? Is it their own fat pockets that concern them? Or the performers and their music? I suspect the former.
Chris, Coventry, UK

I bought more albums in 2003 simply because I had the opportunity to listen to tracks beforehand. Filesharing allows me to check out artists that DON'T feature in the A and B lists. Besides, I can already listen to most current tunes any time I want without paying by simply going to the BBC's own radio websites and selecting a show on demand.
Rob J, UK

It's exactly the same as computer games - when they were only a few pounds they were regularly bought by the majority. Now that they're so expensive they're regularly copied by the majority!
James, UK

Like the record industry has suffered because of pirated copies. And the poor pop stars, how they live in poverty! What a con it all is.
Nigel, Pontygwaith

The corporates are only interested in their profits, if they weren't they would pay the artists a fair share instead of ripping off the artists and the consumers. Surely lowering the price of singles would increase sales, why not 50p a tune? At the end of the day, piracy will never go away, nor will hacking or viruses etc. It is short sighted and underhanded of the BPI to try and impose this, but what can you expect from a fatcat?
David Angel, Sheffield

Maybe if the record companies stopped putting so much emphasis on garbage like Fame Academy, Pop Idol etc. then sales would go up. To my mind, as someone who makes a comfortable living from music, it seems daft to target schoolkids as your main audience & market, then complain when sales fall? Get your heads out from under your backsides and take a look at your marketing.

It cannot be a coincidence that album sales are up, yet singles down. Now - let's get rid of all the compilation albums that seem to constantly re cycle the same 500 songs and sink some money into new talent that has a shelf life of longer than 8 weeks.
Neil Wilkes, London, England

Suing file sharers shouldn't be necessary - if they get the pricing right on legitimate services then illegal services should become insignificant. As a quick example - just try to download all 3 LPs by 70s heroes the Only Ones illegally on Kaaza - it's impossible. If you could get them all for a tenner on, say i-Tunes next year, then we'd be talking.

What I fear is the BPI taking on second hand record shops on the same "the artists don't get paid" basis.
Matthew, London

I think that music media giants such as Sony, BMG etc have been overpricing & exploiting music sales for many years now, file sharing is basically the only way the general public has had a chance to respond to this & I think the BPI knows that as long as file sharing programmes exist, they'll be quaking in their corperate boots.
Andrew Charlton, Newcastle Upon Tyne

I think it is idiotic in the extreme to target your own customer base, especially at a time that healthy sales are reported.

So the sales of singles are declining, but I, like many others that I know download have found ourselves purchasing more albums based on an ability to sample and experiment with different musical styles.

Before I would have stuck to the same bands that I knew I liked, but a free download service allows us to expand our musical tastes, which can only help sales in the long run.

Maybe the music industry should look into ways of supporting free downloads as a method of promoting album sales and new bands, instead of alienating their client base?
Daniel Gurden, Basingstoke, UK

Yes, I think it's about time the BPI took this action. Far too many people flout current copyright laws, depriving artists of their income. And the crazy part is that many of them are decent, otherwise law abiding citizens, who often don't see anything wrong in what they are doing. I think a big advertising campaign to warn of the illegality of file swapping followed by a highly publicised campaign of prosecutions would not go amiss.
Andrew, Cumbria

I do not think anyone should be sued for downloading music from the internet, copyrighted or not. MP3s are not, after all, the full bandwidth CD quality original material. They only contain a small proportion of the original data. To ask someone to pay for an MP3 track is like asking people to pay the full price for a book that was a condensed, abridged version or had wafer thin paper with very faint print.
Adam Brien, New Forest

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