EU Commission: Piracy doesn't hurt music sales, may even help

By on March 19, 2013, 10:27 AM

Although music labels remain adamant about piracy's harm to sales, illegal filesharing sites may actually boost industry revenue according to a report from the European Commission's Institute for Prospective Technological Studies.

After studying the browsing habits of more than 16,000 European webgoers and approaching the data from various angles, the organization concluded that if outfits such as The Pirate Bay didn't exist, clicks on sites selling music legally would have actually been 2% lower overall and as high as 4% in France and the UK specifically.

The researchers also backed a common defense among those who support filesharing by noting that most of the subjects who downloaded illegal music wouldn't have opened their wallets in the absence of filesharing sites anyway.

In addition to finding a positive link between users visiting piracy sites and music stores, the researchers similarly discovered that free legal streaming services boost visits to music stores by 7% instead of purportedly cannibalizing sales.

Despite those findings, the authors of the 40-page paper (embedded below) recognized that private property rights are being violated, it's just that there is unlikely to be much harm to digital music revenue. Damage to physical music sales could be a different story, however.

"[The results] must be interpreted in the context of a still evolving music industry. It is in particular important to note that music consumption in physical format has until recently accounted for the lion’s share of total music revenues. If piracy leads to substantial sales displacement of music in physical format, then its effect on the overall music industry revenues may well still be negative," the researchers said.

It's worth noting that this isn't the first study to claim piracy aids sales. In 2011, former Google GIO and EMI executive Douglas Merrill said he profiled LimeWire users while working for the music label and found that they were some of the biggest spenders on iTunes. Meanwhile, a study by The American Assembly last year concluded that filesharers spend 30% more on music than non-P2P users.

User Comments: 10

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1 person liked this | m4a4 m4a4 said:

"The researchers also backed a common defense among those who support filesharing by noting that most of the subjects who downloaded illegal music wouldn't have opened their wallets in the absence of filesharing sites anyway."

Heyyy! +9001 respect for these guys.

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

Always glad to help.

Ranger1st Ranger1st said:

Wonder what nonsense the RIAA is going to come back with to try and discredit this report.

Guest said:

" EU Commission: Piracy doesn't hurt music sales, may even help "...

Yeah, that's right.

Guest said:

"Piracy doesn't hurt music sales, may even help"

after these all long they just got realized?

1 person liked this | HiDDeNMisT HiDDeNMisT said:

Took them long enough to figure this out. I mean how do we all know this but they don't. This is ridiculous.

dennis777 dennis777 said:

Even Microsoft admits that piracy has help the sales of Windows.

Guest said:

This is totally bogus. The study looks at digital sales, which weren't popular until after piracy already existed, so obviously there aren't going to be a decrease in sales when the sales were lowered years before.

It is simply absurd to think that piracy does anything but hurt music sales.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

I still buy CDs. I like the tangible aspect of them. I "aged out" from rock to country. I find the music on country CDs is a bit more consistently listenable than a lot of early rock offerings. Maybe that's because it's mostly in major keys.

In any case, a lot of country artists are offered songs to pick and choose from a variety of top notch writers. So there's a diversity of decent material when the album goes to print.

But, in the old days, even big name bands had albums with a half of a good song on them. Get stoned, and pump out some incoherent garbage, that was the modus operandi back in the day.

Was it really like that? I'm not sure, I forget...:oops:

Guest said:

This looks at digital sales, which makes it pretty bogus. People "not opening their wallets" even if pirate bay didn't exist is not something to be proud of either because obviously they mean they'll just torrent it from somewhere else. Artists are the ones who suffer most, and CD sales are now non-existent, so old acts don't get paid OR played on the radio. Their royalties stop. "Risky" talent or experimentation is rejected and new acts have to be "bankable"; predictable, pre-packaged, plastic product that everybody complains about but won't accept responsibility for. Innovation and individuality has been silenced throughout the last decade because people under 40 no longer pay for music, and radio has become monotonous and manufactured. The lengths people will go to in order to justify not having to pay for music is crazy; of course it affects sales. I don't agree that labels should be able to charge £14 for a CD of undisclosed filler, but downloading a piece of work that spent months or years to make and cost hundreds of thousands of pounds to produce for nothing is absolutely unjustifiable. You want someone to blame for Nicki Minaj, Justin Beiber and the cesspool that is now the music industry? Look in the mirror.

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