It’s great to get free music, TV, and film off the Internet, but it’s even better when you can get it fast – and that it’s legal too may be a bonus but isn’t a key issue. That’s my take-away on the current view of digital media access from a passel of recent stories and blog posts. Which spells a turning point for the music industry: piracy may have peaked. Thirteen-year-old Josh in New York may’ve said it all. His dad, a VC and a blogger, asked Josh how he’s seeing all the episodes of his favorite TV show, “Friday Night Lights,” afraid Josh will say “BitTorrent,” the file-sharing technology millions of people use for free illegal downloading, but Josh just said “BitTorrent’s too slow.” He streams the shows with the family’s Netflix’s $24.95/mo. subscription. His dad wrote: “The good news is that, as the media business wakes up and puts all the media we want out there in streams available on the Internet (paid or free – this is not about free), we see people streaming more and stealing less.” [Brad Stone of the New York Times picked up this story.] The Guardian cites a survey showing that Josh is not alone: “The number of teenagers [14-18] illegally sharing music has fallen dramatically in the past year.” They’re “using services such as YouTube and Spotify [the latter with 6 million users in Europe and now trying to break into the US market].” The Times also mentions MySpace Music and imeem among popular sources of licensed media streaming. In December 2007, 42% of teens were illegally downloading music, down to 26% this past January, The Guardian adds. Another study by NPD Group in the US found that teens 13-17 “illegally downloaded 6% fewer tracks in 2008 than in 2007, while more than half said they were now listening to legal online radio services like Pandora, up from 34% the year before,” the Times reports. Here’s similar coverage from ZDNET.
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