Online piracy still doesn't hurt digital music sales, finds new study

Online piracy still doesn't hurt digital music sales, finds new study
CD sales, meanwhile...

Forgive us if we sound a little wearied by this whole thing, but once again empirical research has found that neither piracy nor legal streaming hurts digital music sales.

This study is a little different - the European Commission's Institute for Prospective Technological Studies used behaviour-based data from over 16,000 European internet users to work out whether visits to pirate sites lessened people's visits to legit online music retailers.

This heavy statistical analysis concluded that piracy is not that big a deal for the music industry. In fact, it posits that accessibility is half the battle:

"It seems that the majority of the music that is consumed illegally by the individuals in our sample would not have been purchased if illegal downloading websites were not available to them."

That's a point of view backed up by a report from Google and PRS Music last year which found that people are actually willing to pay for piracy sites where they can get their hands on music and movies that haven't received an official release.

Streaming: good

Like piracy, this new study also found that music streaming from sites like Soundcloud to full on subscription services like Spotify still aren't cannibalising music sales: "The complementary effect of online streaming is found to be somewhat larger, suggesting a stimulating effect of this activity on the sales of digital music."

In fact, the study actually concludes that "clicks on legal purchase websites would have been 2 per cent lower in the absence of illegal downloading websites". Huh.

Meanwhile, legal streaming services were found to improve clicks on retail sites by 7 per cent.

Obviously measuring this stuff isn't an exact science, but it's not the first time a study has concluded that piracy can actually be boon to music sales.

The researchers conclude that, "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 down on digital music revenues.

"From that perspective, our findings suggest that digital music piracy should not be viewed as a growing concern for copyright holders in the digital era."

So. There you go.

From Torrent Freak

News Editor (UK)

Former UK News Editor for TechRadar, it was a perpetual challenge among the TechRadar staff to send Kate (Twitter, Google+) a link to something interesting on the internet that she hasn't already seen. As TechRadar's News Editor (UK), she was constantly on the hunt for top news and intriguing stories to feed your gadget lust. Kate now enjoys life as a renowned music critic – her words can be found in the i Paper, Guardian, GQ, Metro, Evening Standard and Time Out, and she's also the author of 'Amy Winehouse', a biography of the soul star.