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Study also finds streaming music doesn't cannibalize traditional sales

The EU's copyright commissioner, Maria Martin-Prat, was formerly a lawyer for the at International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, the parent organization of the U.S.'s RIAA, Canada's CRIA, and Britain's BPI.  She once argued [PDF] that backups have "no reason to exist", and for years vigorously argued that piracy was killing traditional sales.  But ironically her own peers in the EU have just announced that government-funded research proved her and the IFPI wrong; traditional music sales don't suffer from piracy.

I. Pirates Download More Legal Music

The study was conducted using data on more than 16,000 European Union internet users.  Researchers at The Institute for Prospective Technological Studies -- a part of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre -- examined what the affect on a user's behavior by first removing the correlation of level interest in music, then comparing subjects with similar expressed level of interest in music who pirate, versus those who did not.

The results were intriguing.  The researchers write, "It seems that the majority of the music that is consumed illegally by the individuals in our sample would not have been purchased if illegal downloading websites were not available to them.  If this estimate is given a causal interpretation, it means that clicks on legal purchase websites would have been 2 percent lower in the absence of illegal downloading websites."
JRC79605 by torrentfreak

Legal streaming websites -- which the music industry has often attacked -- were found to have a "somewhat larger" complementary affect, increasing clicks on legal sites by 7 percent -- according to the correlation.

II. No Evidence Piracy is killing Music

The researchers say it is puzzling why the music industry is so obsessed with pursuing pirate punishments.  While they declined to make any specific policy recommendations, they conclude:

Taken at face value, our findings indicate that digital music piracy does not displace legal music purchases in digital format. This means that although there is trespassing of private property rights, there is unlikely to be much harm done on digital music revenues.
From that perspective, our findings suggest that digital music piracy should not be viewed as a growing concern for copyright holders in the digital era. In addition, our results indicate that new music consumption channels such as online streaming positively affect copyrights owners.

South Park
It appears piracy really is "not a big deal". [Image Source: South Park Studios]

Of course, correlation does not prove causation, but it appears that even the poorly evidenced claim that piracy is correlated to lower sales is thoroughly wrong.  Further, this is not the first work to show that.  A 2009 study by the UK government found filesharers to spent, on average, £77 ($126), versus a mere £44 for non-pirates ($72).  So much for piracy "killing music", eh?

Source: Scribd via TorrentFreak

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This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

By Denigrate on 3/20/2013 5:09:20 PM , Rating: 2
People who care enough to find and download music, legal/illegal, are likely passionate about music and want to support artists who make music they like. So they might download an mp3/FLAC to try out the music, but then go buy that artists entire collection. Thanks to Pandora, I find new music via streaming internet radio, and then go buy the stuff I really like.

RE: Music
By othercents on 3/21/2013 8:20:36 AM , Rating: 2
I think the issue becomes when the line between legal and illegal becomes blurred. It is possible if illegal downloading becomes the norm then people will slowly over time quit buying music and just download.

However other avenues like streaming services are actually beneficial for the music sales. They get new music out where people can here it. They work just like radio stations without all the overhead. The recording industry should be giving more avenues for people to sample music and mechanisms to purchase that music on demand.


RE: Music
By ritualm on 3/21/2013 3:02:09 PM , Rating: 2
"Illegal downloading" is the wrong way of categorizing user behavior on music. It really should be "music sharing". It's illegal only because people aren't paying to get it. Here, again, the problem is who defines what is illegal? The RIAA themselves.

These are the same guys who imposed MAP pricing on physical album sales, and who still assumes all of us as criminals rather than customers. These guys want the laws of the land changed specifically to punish us the moment we share a music clip through a method not explicitly endorsed by them. It took them an eternity to accept digital music distribution as an alternate way of selling music to the masses.

Their actions over the past 10-15 years - DRM, rootkits, outrageous "damages" per song, C&D notices, and variations of SOPA/PIPA - have killed off whatever appetite I had left of North American music in general. If the artists are in any way remotely affiliated with RIAA, they're not getting my money, full stop.

These days I listen to foreign "programmed music" and electronica; I simply refuse to give my money to an organization that wants all of us locked behind bars.

"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)

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