Before the advent of peer-to-peer file sharing via torrents or dedicated services like Napster or Limewire, bootlegged copies of movies, TV shows or music were already an issue for the respective industries. The internet has exacerbated this issue, even with streaming platforms offering huge content libraries for a relatively low price. As our chart based on data from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) shows, young people in particular have no qualms about getting their music fix in illegal ways.
According to IFPI's annual Engaging with Music reports from 2021 and 2022, 30 percent of respondents surveyed obtained or listened to music by infringing on existing copyright, while 27 percent engaged in stream ripping. This relatively new phenomenon linked to the rise of on-demand streaming describes utilizing a website or service to create a downloadable file from content uploaded to platforms like YouTube or Spotify. The share of survey participants aged between 16 and 24 engaging in illicit ways to get their hands on music is significantly higher. Compared to 2021, the share of respondents either practicing stream ripping or illegally downloading music grew by five percentage points in both categories this past year, amounting to 40 and 43 percent, respectively.
While stream ripping might not have played a role in music piracy for most of the 21st century, this method of copyright infringement has quickly become the most prevalent. As data from anti-piracy analytics company Muso reported on by Music Business Worldwide suggests, stream ripping services accounted for 39 percent of online traffic to music piracy sites in 2021, followed by unlicensed streaming services with 32 percent and web downloads with 24 percent.