The music industry will tell you that piracy is the bane of its existence, and that it will end up killing the industry. There's compelling evidence that suggests this is not the case, but the RIAA and its ilk conveniently ignore such research. Some new research came out today, however, that the music industry will have a hard time ignoring.
The Institute for Prospective Technological Studies, which is part of the European Commission, has released a study called "Digital Music Consumption on the Internet: Evidence from Clickstream Data." The study followed over 16,000 European Internet users and found some interesting browsing habits for those who frequently visit pirate sites.
It was found that a large portion of users who are interested in music were found to visit both "pirate" sites and online music stores. In fact, they found that clicks on online music stores would be down two percent were it not for the existence of these "pirate" sites.
The study also found that free, legal streaming options are becoming far more important to the overall music industry. The finding helps support a previous finding that said streaming services were actually helping the industry earn more revenue. Going even further, the Commission found that visits to online music stores were up seven percent as a result of streaming services.
In short, the researchers found that music piracy, and legal streaming services, have no negative impact on digital music sales:
“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."
Of course, it should be noted that this study doesn't outright confirm that piracy leads to greater sales. The study only found that people were more likely to visit online music stores and click. We could assume that sales happened, but we just don't know.
The general ambiguity of the study may be why the Commission isn't ready to make any recommendations for new laws or relaxing of current laws yet. It's a shame really as the music industry has been rather successful in having sites censored by local ISPs claiming that the sites negatively impact its business. Research like this, however, may convince judges that there's more to take into account when issuing Web stie bans in the future.
You can check out the study in its entirety below:TorrentFreak]