Mobile Apps and Music Piracy

Last year 27 million people in the U.S. used mobile applications to download at least one unauthorized song.


The music industry’s global trade group, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) issued a warning about the widening scope of piracy in its annual report issued on March 18.

“Mobile applications have eclipsed file-sharing services, online storage sites known as ‘digital lockers’ and stream-ripping software as the most widely used source of free music downloads, according to a new study from researcher NPD Group, whose results have not previously been made public,” reported Recode.

Mobile technology has come a long way since the ring tone. The NPD Group found that 27 million people in the U.S. used mobile applications to download at least one unauthorized song last year. Music Maniac, for example, gives free access to the top 10 ten songs on the current Billboard’s Hot 100 list, and has been downloaded more than 10 million times.

The Recording Industry Association of America told White House officials in 2012 that mobile applications facilitated copyright infringement. Speaking to a House Judiciary Committee, RIAA’s Chairman Cary Sherman said the industry had sent Google more than 2 million notices of infringements from

Several other trade associations have claimed Google enables song piracy and that the technology giant has thus far refused to remove some 250 apps for downloading MP3 files to smartphones and tablets powered by its Android software.

Unlike Apple’s curated approach, which cuts down on piracy-enabled apps, Google relies on copyright holders to flag inappropriate apps. In the open spirit of the Android market, Google’s developer agreement says the company “does not intend, and does not undertake, to monitor the products or their content.”

While mobile phones have enabled major labels to bring licensed music services to parts of the globe that were previously off the technological grid such as Africa, combating the rise in music piracy on smartphones is part of the industry’s efforts to revitalize the business.

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