A government study has proved what many of us have suspected for a long time, that illegal file sharing actually increases the number of CDs sold rather than reduces it.
The study was commissioned by Industry Canada, a ministry of the Canadian federal government.
It is called ‘The Impact of Music Downloads and P2P File-Sharing on the Purchase of Music: A Study for Industry Canada‘, and was written by Birgitte Andersen and Marion Frenz, of the Department of Management at the University of London in England.
The pair surveyed over 2,000 Canadians on their music downloading and purchasing habits, and the results will be uncomfortable reading for the CRIA (Canadian Recording Industry Association) and the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) both of which have repeatedly denied the positive connections between downloads and physical purchases.
The most striking conclusion of the survey is that P2P file sharing does not actively harm the music industry in terms of sales, and in fact the opposite is true: It increases music sales.
The study claims that for every 12 P2P downloads, or one album, music purchasing increases by 0.44 CDs per year. Furthermore, about half of all P2P tracks are downloaded because individuals want to hear songs before buying them, not as copies intended to replace the need for making a purchase in the first place.
So it seems that the claims of recording industry organisations around the world as to how damaging illegal downloads are to their business are either plain wrong or at least being exaggerated.
Obviously industry lobbyists will be very quick to jump in to the debate and dismiss the study as insubstantial or inaccurate, but when a study by a government ministry tells them they are wrong, where are they going to take the argument next?