Industry Suppressed Report Showing Users Of Shuttered 'Pirate' Site Probably Helped Movie Industry...

from the well,-look-at-that dept

We've seen study after study after study after study after study showing, contrary to the claim of the industry and certain politicians that users of file sharing sites are pure "freeloaders" who are "leeching," that the users tend to be larger spenders on media and ancillary products. So it's really not a huge surprise that a new study would come out saying the same thing...

But, in this case, the history of the report, which has not actually been released, is a lot more interesting. As you may recall, in June, law enforcement across Europe arrested a bunch of people for apparently running -- a site that had been listed by US entertainment lobbyists as one of the worst of the worst "pirate sites," out there. So, it sure would be interesting to find out that, before all of this happened, some entertainment industry lobbyists had commissioned research into the type of folks who used and their media consumption habits.

Indeed, as TorrentFreak found out, it appears that just such a report was commissioned and created... and the results matched all those other studies we've seen:
The study, which was carried out by Society for Consumer Research (GfK), found that users of pirate sites including did not fit the copyright lobby-painted stereotype of parasites who take and never give back.

In fact, the study also found that Internet users treat these services as a preview, a kind of “try before you buy.”

This, the survey claims, leads pirate site users to buy more DVDs, visit the cinema more often and on average spend more than their ‘honest’ counterparts at the box office.

“The users often buy a ticket to the expensive weekend-days,” the report notes.
Of course, this report never saw the light of day. The only reason it appears to be getting out is what appears to be disgruntled researchers on the report who are upset it was spiked by whoever commissioned it... though the firm does have a history of working with organizations within the movie industry.

Of course, all of this raises some questions. Considering all of this research -- including some that appears to have been sponsored by the industry itself... why does the industry continue to lie and insist that people who use these sites are pure freeloaders? Do they not believe their own studies? Or do they simply fear the loss of control such a reality would really mean? Either way, it seems that those politicians, law enforcement officials and press who continue to parrot the industry's claims about those who use these services might want to reconsider how they portray these sites.

Filed Under: europe, file sharing, movies, piracy, studies

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  1. icon
    Karl (profile), 22 Jul 2011 @ 11:11am


    Wasn't it pirates (or their defenders) who claim that they would not have bought the movie / song / book / software anyway, so that pirating does not result in a lost sale?

    No, it was researchers who are trying to calculate the actual amount of "lost sales" due to piracy. They were not, and are not, "those who defend piracy." (Some of those studies were even commissioned by the entertainment industry.)

    The reasoning is simple: if specific people who pirate music are only doing it because it's free, and who would not have consumed the content otherwise, then there is no "lost sale."

    What you're not getting is that you can be one of those people, and also someone who pays more for music/movies. There's a very simple reason for this: people don't have unlimited spending power. Eliminating piracy won't increase their budget for content.

    In the "best-case" scenario, it will make them pay for the content they could otherwise have downloaded - while decreasing the amount they pay for things they could not download (live shows, theater tickets, etc). Or, it will make them spend less on other, market-identical products (e.g. they can't download a Lady Gaga album anymore, so they'll pay for that - instead of paying for the new Madonna album they would have bought otherwise). Either way, the net result for the industry is a wash.

    However, a more realistic scenario is that even those who spend more money than others on content would not pay for the content absent piracy, but will simply do without the content.

    There is also the notion that the ability to pirate increases interest in music or movies. I don't doubt that this is true. It makes music and movies more ubiquitous; it makes consumption of content more integrated with their daily lives. (That is the entire reason radio stations have ever existed.)

    So, decreasing piracy won't result in more overall sales for the industry, since it will not increase the net amount people are willing to pay for content. However, it may decrease interest in content - which will decrease the amount people are willing to pay for content.

    That seems to be the outcome of every independent study I've read. In fact, there has been no independent study that shows that people who pirate buy less content than people who do not.

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