Music piracy is on the increase worldwide, with 40 per cent of users accessing unlicensed music, up from 35 per cent last year, according to the global recorded music industry group IFPI. Internet search engines are making piracy easier, say the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. The increase in piracy follows a slump in recent years when policing of the digital music landscape appeared to be clamping down on the practice. “Copyright infringement is still growing and evolving, with stream ripping the dominant method,” says IPPI chief Frances Moore. “With the wealth of licensed music available to fans, these types of illegal sites have no justifiable place in the music world,” she says, calling for greater regulation of the digital music sector. Tencent banks on original music to become China’s Spotify Based on a survey of consumers in 13 countries, the report found that most unlicensed music listeners were using “stream ripping” to access pirate content. Thirty-five per cent of all internet users were using stream ripping – up from 30 per cent in 2016. Stream ripping sites allow users to turn a file being played on a streaming platform, such as Spotify or YouTube, into one that can be downloaded permanently. Spotify is hiring people to cook up hardware as innovative as the Amazon Echo The percentage of stream rippers rose to 53 per cent among 16 to 24 year olds, while only 18 per cent of 55 to 64-year-olds engaged in stream ripping. The report said search engines “play a key role in copyright infringements”, with 54 per cent of those downloading unlicenced music using Google to find it. YouTube-mp3.org, the world’s most popular stream ripping site in which millions of users converted YouTube videos into audio files, was shut down earlier this month after a legal campaign by IFPI. The music industry – which has enjoyed a revival in profits after years of stagnation – has been increasingly aggressive in tackling piracy. In 2015, it succeeded in shutting the popular site Grooveshark. IFPI also said that upload platform YouTube accounts for 46 per cent of all the time spent listening to on-demand music but that this dominance was failing to create “fair value” for the music business. It said the estimated annual revenue for the industry per user from Spotify was about US$20, compared to less than US$1 per user for YouTube. Spotify targets wider digital advertising in Hong Kong The report also revealed the continuing rise in audio streaming. It found that 45 per cent of respondents were now listening to music through a licensed audio streaming service – up from 37 per cent in 2016. It also revealed that 90 per cent of paid audio streamers were listening to music using a smartphone. Among 13 to 15 year olds, 85 per cent were using streaming services, according to the survey.