Study Shows File Sharing Not Harming CD Sales
from the ah,-more-evidence... dept
We were just talking about how the Australian music industry is trying to hide the fact that sales are actually up, despite file sharing, and now (via Boing Boing) comes news of a study that looked very carefully at the data and found no evidence that file sharing negatively impacts CD sales (pdf file). The study set to go beyond the theories and rhetoric from all sides on the debate, and try to establish actual numbers suggesting the impact of file sharing. They point out that it's easy to make anecdotal cases of how file sharing could both harm (since people could download instead of buy) and help (since people could find out about new music via file sharing) music sales. The study is quite an interesting read. They found that downloads seem to have a negligible impact on most sales (positive or negative). For popular albums (the ones the RIAA seems to be most concerned about) the evidence suggested downloads actually increased sales. As for all those other downloads, the study found (as many have been saying from the very beginning), most of the songs downloaded would never have been bought by downloaders in the first place - so no sales were lost. The study also suggests that it can be used as evidence to show that (despite popular belief) intellectual property protection is not necessary to encourage innovation. They also point out why this seems obvious in retrospect, since the software industry has dealt with so-called pirated software available online for ages - and the industry is still growing. Finally, they point out that while file sharing has little to no economic impact on the recording industry, it does have huge societal benefit, in allowing more music to be heard. Of course, as we were pointing out with the early post about the Australian recording industry, it's likely that folks in the industry will again refuse to reconsider their beliefs, despite the new evidence suggesting they were very wrong.