Study Shows Online Piracy is Good for Showbiz


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A new study by The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) says that online piracy isn't hurting the entertainment industry, but is actually helping it. The study, authored by Bart Cammaerts, Robin Mansell and Bingchun Meng, also asks governments to re-evaluate their antipiracy laws while including data from studies beyond those directly sponsored by the entertainment industry itself.

Cammaerts, drawing upon the findings of a report conducted by file sharing site TorrentFreak, states, “contrary to the industry claims, the music industry is not in terminal decline, but still holding ground and showing healthy profits. Revenues from digital sales, subscription services, streaming and live performances compensate for the decline in revenues from the sale of CDs or records."

A study conducted last June showed that 45% of Americans download pirated media, and 70% of the 30-and-under crowd share pirated files. Regardless, the movie industry is seeing larger revenues. “Despite the Motion Picture Association of America’s (MPAA) claim that online piracy is devastating the movie industry, Hollywood achieved record-breaking global box office revenues of $35 billion in 2012, a 6% increase over 2011,” according to the LSE report.

Studies have repeatedly shown that pirates are more apt to actually pay for physical and digital media, and are the biggest champions of media in general. The Columbia study has also shown that half of all pirates would be willing to pay a monthly fee for unlimited access to all media.

Still, the record industry has been stagnating for a long while. But merchandise and live performance revenues have supplemented industry losses. The LSE study authors suggest that the entertainment industry might need to figure out how to better bridge the gap between content providers and media consumers.

The authors conclude, “within the creative industries there is a variety of views on the best way to benefit from online sharing practices, and how to innovate to generate revenue streams in ways that do not fit within the existing copyright enforcement regime. When both [the creative industries and citizens] can exploit the full potential of the Internet, this will maximize innovative content creation for the benefit of all stakeholders.”

Interestingly, Netflix surveys piracy sites to deem which shows and movies are most popular, before incorporating them into their lineup.

Image via uTorrent.