EU Study Confirmed Piracy Never Hurt Music SalesUnauthorized music downloads have very insignificant impact on online music sales. This is the conclusion of a new study carried out by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre.
The resolution of the study says that the vast majority of music consumed against the law wouldn’t have been legally purchased if unauthorized downloading services didn’t exist.
The Joint Research Centre has investigated the browsing habits of 16,000 European citizens and found out that not only does Internet piracy not hurt digital music sales – it may even have a positive effect on legal music consumption, because “pirates” are purchasing more music on the Internet than others.
The researchers compared people’s visits to illegal downloading services and legal music portals by following their clickstreams. It turned out that a 10% increase in clicks on unauthorized downloading portals resulted in a 0.2% increase in clicks on legitimate sites, regardless of interest in music. In a causal interpretation, this means that clicks on legal music portals would have been 2% if unauthorized downloading sites didn’t exist. Moreover, the effect of legitimate streaming services like Spotify on visits to music purchase sites is even greater – the Joint Research Centre estimated it at 7%.
Although the study in question didn’t include any policy recommendations, the researchers still came to conclusion that the music industry should not be overly concerned about Internet piracy. In the meantime, one should take into account that this research didn’t examine the impact of unauthorized downloads on physical music sales like CDs.