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More Evidence That Piracy Can Increase Sales 196

Socguy writes "The London School of Economics has published a new study (PDF) which shows that the claims about digital downloading killing music and movies are overblown. In fact, there is new evidence to indicate that it actually generates more income in certain cases. 'While it acknowledges that sales have stagnated in recent years, the report points out that the overall revenue of the music industry in 2011 was almost $60 billion US, and in 2012, worldwide sales of recorded music increased for the first time since 1999, with 34 per cent of revenues for that year coming from digital channels such as streaming and downloads. "The music industry may be stagnating, but the drastic decline in revenues warned of by the lobby associations of record labels is not in evidence," the report says. ... The growing use of streaming, cloud computing, so-called digital lockers that facilitate the sharing of content and sites that offer a mix of free and paid methods of getting content will, the study predicts, spur the entertainment industries to shift their focus from pursuing illegal downloading to creating more legal avenues for getting content online.'"
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More Evidence That Piracy Can Increase Sales

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  • by schneidafunk ( 795759 ) on Friday October 04, 2013 @10:18AM (#45035329)

    I'm more interested in how well the artists are getting paid, any study on that?

    • by Xicor ( 2738029 )
      artists are starting to get paid more now that they can produce and put stuff on the internet for sale directly, without the record label. this is why the record labels dont like the digital age, they are being cut out from all the profit because they are unnecessary atm
    • Artists are always the last to be paid. It says so in their contract.

  • by dryriver ( 1010635 ) on Friday October 04, 2013 @10:28AM (#45035473)
    ... which means that they can provide the "straight dope" on piracy, without trying to please rightwing conservatives who constantly scream that "piracy is theft". This report tells us what many of us already knew/suspected. Still, kudos to the LSE for making the effort! +1
    • by brit74 ( 831798 )

      The LSE is a very LEFT-leaning institution...... which means that they can provide the "straight dope" on piracy,

      Why should I trust a "very LEFT-leaning institution"? Personally, I'd write them off as being idiots and anti-establishment. Being anti-establishment is going to give them a bias TOWARDS piracy. Communism is also a "very left-leaning" idea. It's still a stupid idea, even if "they aren't polluted by corporate interests, therefore their pro-communism stance is unbiased" or some nonsense.

    • . This report tells us what many of us already knew/suspected. Still, kudos to the LSE for making the effort! +1

      What was it the report told you, and what did you KNOW or suspect? The report appears to say that the people who pirate spend more than those who don't pirate. But what does that tell us? Not a whole lot really. Perhaps those who don't pirate don't consume very much. Based on the article we don't really know anything more than we did before.

  • Piracy-driven sales are up? Then I demand an even harsher war against those filthy pirates who hurt the main business of the copyright industry. []
  • by intermodal ( 534361 ) on Friday October 04, 2013 @10:55AM (#45035819) Homepage Journal

    It's the sales of what they want to sell you. The Media/Content industry doesn't get the same power to tell you what to buy when you're free to choose it for yourself. They'd rather sell ten million copies of the latest ... crap, who are they trying to push these days? Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus or something? Anyway, they'd rather sell ten million of just one or two of those than twenty million albums spread across 200 different albums of varying genres.

    This is about the power to tell you what to buy, not to tell you to buy from them.

    • they'd rather sell ten million of just one or two of those than twenty million albums spread across 200 different albums of varying genres

      Well, no kidding. Of course they would. Selling ten million copies each of two albums versus a hundred thousand copies each of 200 albums is far more profitable. For each separate album, you have recording costs, production costs, studio time, perhaps some session musicians to be paid, promotional costs, distribution, supply chain costs, etc., etc., etc. It all adds up.

      If you have 200 different albums, that's a lot more expensive (considering all those costs coming in for every single one of those albums) t

  • by Bill_the_Engineer ( 772575 ) on Friday October 04, 2013 @11:03AM (#45035895)

    The headline and the summary is a little misleading. The study doesn't actually show that piracy increases sales.

    The submitter conflated three issues addressed in the study.

    1) Making it easier to obtain authorized copies of digital music offset losses due to piracy. "Revenue from online sources including recorded music sales, streaming, online radio, subscriptions and other is increasing, both absolutely and as a percentage of overall revenue." The music industry remains healthy despite claims of huge losses due to piracy. The industry is learning to adapt by offering something other than the traditional buy-to-own model.

    2) Independent artists are able to make money inside a inclusive collaborate digital culture. This challenges the assumptions that someone must have exclusive rights to music in order to make money. The authors talk about CreativeCommons and how SoundCloud is used to collaborate.

    3) Prosecuting individuals for copyright enforcement isn't effective. "Targeting individual internet users is not likely to reverse the trend toward an online sharing culture, and there is an urgent need for independent verification of claims of harm to the creative industries as a result of individual copyright."

    The authors make the following conclusion for responsible copyright enforcement:

    "Broader ‘fair use/fair dealing’ provisions, proposals for private copying exceptions and aiming copyright enforcement and prosecution at infringing businesses instead of at citizens who share online is likely to have the desired effect of balancing the interests of the creative industries and citizens. When both can exploit the full potential of the internet, this will maximise innovative content creation for the benefit of all stakeholders."

    I wonder how many people will argue that piracy is good based only on the misleading headline and not the actual contents of the study?

  • Belief is more powerful than fact. So delivering 100 studies that consistently show that pirates are also customers. They believe it's bad and wrong and that's that.

    What's more, piracy is competition. It doesn't matter if people would rather buy than pirate, the price point at which people would begin to decide otherwise is lowered when downloading for free is available somewhere.

    • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Friday October 04, 2013 @12:14PM (#45036727) Homepage

      You also know what's competition? The back catalog.

      Every band, every label, every directory, every studio has to compete in an environment where creative media of all kinds is cheap and plentiful. I simply don't have to be stuck as a member of a captive audience being forcibly subjected to today's dreck. I can choose from all of the classics of the last 100 years and they are for the most part dirt cheap.

      We are awash in a glut of media. Supply and demand dictates that prices will fall even without piracy.

      A watched a new movie and a 50 year old TV show last night. Most of my music was acquired before the turn of the century.

  • by sl4shd0rk ( 755837 ) on Friday October 04, 2013 @11:23AM (#45036171)

    I don't buy the "piracy is good for business" BS; what I do agree with is that being a full-on pissrag and advocating zillion dollar fines *cough*metallica*cough* on people for downloading a 3 minutes song is so abrasive to your customers that they will make a bigger effort to pirate your crap OFF the net. just in spite. Some will simply drop you from their playlists for good as soon as an alternative comes around with the same genre of sound.

    Yeah, you'll scare a lot of people with fines but what happens is the independent musicians not tied into a label slap something up on youtube and people like it. And hey the guys not a dick, he's giving his stuff away for free. People like that and want to support that and sales go up.

    So yeah, in some cases, piracy drives music sales but it's sure not the way MPAA/RIAA would like it to be. Besides, they have a lot of people with deep pockets who get nervous when they hear things aren't going so well, so they spin stuff like this to give the moneybags' warm fuzzies.

  • by tmark ( 230091 ) on Friday October 04, 2013 @12:01PM (#45036591)

    I didn't see any evidence presented that "piracy can increase sales". All I saw were claims that box-office, gaming, and music revenues are increasing. But these increases are due to acknowledged growth areas (e.g. streaming, in-game buying, etc) and improved distribution methods (e.g., iTunes) and these claims say nothing about what revenues would have been in the absence of piracy. In other words, there is nothing to support the causality implied in the Slashdot story title

    Frankly, I don't see how it is at all arguable that piracy can increase revenues. If I can download a band's entire catalog, which I have done, once I have done so the likelihood that I am going to go and pay for the band's music is drastically - in my case, completely - reduced. Same goes for downloading movies. It is, as one poster commented, just bits now. The visceral pleasure of owning a record with its cover art, sliding open the sleeves and smelling that wonderful vinyl smell is gone. A legally purchased copy of music or a movie is no better than a pirated download of same.

  • I never would have bought an Evanesance album had I not downloaded it for free and decided they were way too good not to support buy buying their alums.
    • I never would have bought an Evanesance album had I not downloaded it for free and decided they were way too good not to support buy buying their alums.

      On the opposite side of that coin, I will never buy a David Weber book because I was able to get two of them for free from his publisher (Baen) and learned I didn't like his work at all. That's after a couple of friends recommended him. (He seems to be really big on describing horrendous violence in gruesome detail.)

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