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Has Apple Sold Millions of Songs Illegally?

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

(SNN) Steve Jobs recently announced that the iTunes online music store had hit 250 million downloads since its 2003 debut. The Apple CEO claimed that people were buying songs from the iTunes service at the rate of 1.25 million per day. "When we launched the iTunes music store we were hoping to sell a million songs in the first six months - now we're selling over a million songs every day, and we've sold over a quarter billion songs in total," Jobs said.

When we launched the iTunes music store we were hoping to sell a million songs in the first six months

This comes in stark contrast to a report by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. The IFPI report claimed that 20 million songs were legally distributed in 2003 and 200 million in 2004. This only makes 220 million songs.

Even accepting that Apple has probably sold 30 million songs in the month of January at the rate of 1.25 million songs a day, Apple is not the only player in the online music game. According to the IFPI, there are currently 230 legitimate online music stores. It is estimated that iTunes only accounts for 70% of online music sales. If these numbers are accurate, the iTunes store has uploaded 75 million songs illegally. If the RIAA were to sue Apple, they could be subject to up to $75 trillion in fines.

If these numbers are accurate, the iTunes store as uploaded 75 million songs illegally.

The music industry has been striving to offer alternatives to illegal downloading. Universal for example has made its entire Cantonese catalog available for sale on the internet. "There's a lot more tracks digitized and waiting to go online - it does take time," an IFPI spokesperson said. "And there's the hardware makers going crazy making their fancy gadgets and the iPod." Yes, they actually used the words, “fancy gadgets”.

Meanwhile, the IFPI report when on to say that 2/3 of online music downloaders obtain their music illegally. To fight this, the music industry is trying hard to appeal to people’s consciences, a concept that was completely foreign to them before the advent of the original Napster service. According to some estimates, most serious illegal music downloaders have over 300 million songs in their personal collections.

In honor of both Mozart's birthday and mine, I declare 27 January 2005 "Fuck The RIAA" day. To participate, all you have to do is rat out as many people as possible who are using shared files. At some point, the cost of all the prosecutions and bad feelings will literally bankrupt the RIAA of both money and political currency. Or my other idea, walk into a bank and shout "Fuck The RIAA" really loud.

Other ideas would be appreciated for consideration.

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