The dubious award for Gainesville, is detailed in a global report into music piracy — the Digital Music Index (DMI) — by global analysts at MusicMetric which charts digital music trends around the world.
Investigating file-sharing activity carried out via the peer-to-peer protocol BitTorrent, the inaugural report published by the group shows that Americans downloaded 759 million songs illegally using BitTorrent downloading software in the first half of 2012.
We've been led to believe that piracy hurts media production; that if we carry on pirating like we are, there will soon be no entertainment industry left to produce content. Yet a quick look at the figures shows that the truth may not be so simple.
An interesting example would be the music industry. While piracy is rightly often blamed for the sharp decrease in music sales over the past decade or so, what we hear less about is how revenues made from live music performances are increasing rapidly, at over 10% per year. In business terms, this implies that the pirated music acts as a loss leader, with the real money now being made through the increasingly lucrative world of ticket and festival sales. How many members of each audience would have never become a fan of the artist if not for pirating their content?
The legal music streaming service industry is also a field that's on the rise, with over 200 services currently available worldwide. One thing this popularity makes clear is that when presented with an affordable legal option that manages to be more convenient than piracy, consumers are more than happy to take it. This is a trend that can be seen in gaming and film also, with services such as Steam and Netflix reaching audiences of millions due to being not only affordable, but easy to use, too.
Despite the rise of piracy, more books are being published than ever before, and there are more films being released now than any other time in history. There are over a million songs produced in America every year - a staggering number that can likely be attributed to the rise of home music production software. While one downside to piracy is that it causes the major record labels to takes less risks, the upside is that artists in all fields have a wider pool than ever to draw influences from; media from all around the world is available at the click of a button. It's become cheaper and easier for anybody to produce a film, book or song from their own bedroom- the need for major cooporations to facilitate the creation of these is decreasing, and a cursory glance on http://www.mediacatchup.com shows a shift as more homegrown acts break through into the mainstream via sites such as YouTube. Growth is particularly evident in countries such as Russia, who's film production increased by 57% between 2005 and 2009 according to the 'Sky is Rising' study by CCIA and Floor 64.
The long term effects of piracy have yet to be seen, but one thing is for sure; its effects on the entertainment industry are murkier and harder to pin down than they first seem.