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Friday, February 14, 2003
Anti-piracy efforts could increase iPod, MP3 player prices


If the Canadian Copyright Board anti-piracy plan goes through, the price of iPods would increase by 33 percent, according to a BusinessWeek Online article. The board is considering a plan to raise the levy on every CD-R sold from 21 cents to 59 cents, as well place a levy on the hard drives found in MP3 players. Twenty-five other countries, including most of the European Union, have introduced similar plans.

The Recording Industry Association of America (news - web sites) (RIAA) blames a two-year plummet in CD sales on music piracy involving the downloading of music and "burn your own" CDs. The RIAA says that CD sales slid 7.2 percent in the first half of 2002, an ongoing trend.

However, not everyone agrees. In fact, some even hold the view that the RIAA is presenting a misleading view of CD sales trends to bolster its ongoing war against music pirates. For instance, George Ziemann, a musician and the owner of the MacWizards Music production company, reasons that sales may be down because the music industry released 27,000 new titles in 2001, a 25 percent drop from the high of 38,900 in 1999.

However, the RIAA claims it hasn't released an official tally of annual new releases since 1999. On the other hand, the research firm Nielsen SoundScan said new releases in 2001 totaled around 31,734, still a 20.3 percent drop, BusinessWeek Online reports.

The article adds that other factors may also be contributing to the CD sales slump. From 1999 to 2001, the average price of a CD rose 7.2 percent, from $13.04 to $14.19; during the same time consumer inflation was virtually flat. And the hefty sales of DVD players and discs offers competition to CDs, especially when you consider that the cost for DVD disc with a movie and soundtrack isn't substantially higher than that for a soundtrack-only CD.

Internet piracy is "undoubtedly" affecting the music business, but "it seems irresponsible for music-industry officials to present these sales statistics as proof that piracy is overwhelmingly responsible for the industry's woes while conveniently ignoring the economic and technological context that puts those numbers in perspective," BusinessWeek Online concludes.


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