Delete Files

Is it just me, or are the numbers in this article all entirely made up?

In August more than a million households deleted all the digital music files they had saved on their PCs, according to new information released today by The NPD Group. NPD credits the ongoing RIAA anti-piracy campaign and related media attention as having had a measurable effect on the actions of many consumers in regard to the illegal sharing of digital music. In a related survey of consumer perception, however, NPD found that consumers’ overall opinion of the recording industry is suffering as a result of the record industry association’s well-publicized legal tactics.
In August 1.4 million households deleted all the digital music files saved on their PC hard drives. Prior to August, deletions were at much lower levels. For example, in May of 2003 when NPD first began to track music file deletions, 606,000 households deleted all digital music files from their PCs. Eighty percent of the consumers who deleted files had fewer than 50 files saved; just 10 percent had more than 200 files.

First, one should be inherently skeptical about news originating over Business Wire—someone (in this case, presumably NPD) is paying money so that whatever they want to say will enter the media echo chamber.

Second, the methodology just seems impossibly screwy. I would put as much faith in it as an article claiming, “41% of people have rearranged the icons on their desktop so they’re more evenly spaced.”

Finally, this makes no sense. Unless people don’t understand the RIAA lawsuits at all (a possibility to which I’ll admit), there’s no relation. RIAA isn’t suing people for having media on their hard drive, they’re suing them (often mistakenly) for providing them to a P2P network—particularly kazaa. If people are genuinely afraid of being sued, I would expect them to either (1) stop running Kazaa or (2) at least move their media off out of the “shared” folders. But not delete the files!

Update: Apparently, this story was just posted on Slashdot. I tend not to post things here that are on the front page of Slashdot, as I figure people looking for that stuff will find it there. But my entry went up first, so I’ll keep it here. Somebody did link this great comic on the topic, though.

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