Monday, 25 February 2013

Does piracy offset legal sales of recorded music?


Is the answer, based on reviewing research into this phenomenon. The findings are not however unanimous.

Oberholzer-Gee and Strumpf (2010) argue that while "some studies find evidence of a substitution effect, other findings, in particular the papers using actual file-sharing data, suggest that piracy and music sales are largely unrelated" (p.49). More recently however, in their 'non-technical' discussion of relevant literature, Smith and Telang (2012) ultimately conclude that a 'very consistent story' can be found. That is, piracy does offset otherwise legal sales of recorded music.

A negative substitution effect has been found, with Zentner (2006; 2009) demonstrating P2P usage reducing the likelihood of buying music by as much as 30-50%. More neutral effects have also been found by Oberholzer-Gee and Strumpf (2007) as well as, controversially, a positive impact of filesharing on actual purchasing (Andersen and Frenz, 2007). However, this finding has been largely revoked as Barker and Maloney (2012) recently reached the opposite, intuitive finding, when making adjustments to the same dataset.

In their accessible paper, Smith and Telang (2012)  discuss the limitations of the methodologies employed in measuring this occurence, where the absence of reliable data demands for novel approaches (with inherent flaws). These should be taken into consideration.

Many of the papers cited are accessible online, including Smith and Telang (2012), which comes recommended as a good starting point.

Go on, have a read. Make your own mind up.

Next month...

Do pirates spend more money on music?

Occasional Tweets between naps @musicpiracyblog


Andersen, B. and Frenz, M. (2007). The Impact of Music Downloads and P2P File-Sharing on the Purchase of Music: A Study for Industry Canada [online]. Available from:$FILE/IndustryCanadaPaperMay4_2007_en.pdf [Accessed Sep 12, 2011].

Barker, G. and Maloney, T. (2012). The Impact of Free Music Downloads on the Purchase of Music CDs in Canada. Working Paper Number 4-2012, Australian National University College of Law.

Oberholzer-Gee, F. and Strumpf, K. (2007). The effect of file sharing on record sales: An empirical analysis. Journal of Political Economy, 115(1), 1-42.

Oberholzer-Gee, F. and Strumpf, K. (2010). File Sharing and Copyright. National Bureau of Economic Research Series. Available from:

Smith, M.D. and Telang, R. (2012). Assessing the Academic Literature Regarding the Impact of Media Piracy on Sales. Working paper.

Zentner, A. (2006). Measuring the effect of file sharing on music purchases. Journal of Law and Economics, 49(1), 63-90.

Zentner, A. (2009). Ten Years of File Sharing and Its Effect on International Physical and Digital Music Sales. Working Paper, University of Texas at Dallas, Dallas Texas. Available from:


Wednesday, 20 February 2013

(Another) new documentary on TPB

Hot on the heels of the new documentary 'TPB: AFK' which was discussed in a previous blog entry here, a new BBC documentary on The Pirate Bay was recently broadcast. UK blog-readers can access it here.

Not watched it yet, but it's recorded on thee ole Sky box to consume at the weekend. Thought it best to squeeze this info out while it's still hot.

Doesn't matter what I think either. This blog acts as a portal to guide keen readers to other resources to do their own investigation.

So have a look.

Tweetage @musicpiracyblog

Monday, 11 February 2013

New documentaries on music piracy (includes trailer for new TPB film)

A new documentary on The Pirate Bay recently hit the web. It is called 'TPB: AFK'. The trailer is embedded below.

It has been a trending link on Twitter (look up #TPB), generating a buzz when it went live a month ago.

In the documentary, we get to see the principals involved in TPB behind the PC screen who do not present any compelling moral and legal arguments in favour of piracy, demystifying some of the confusions which plague intelligent discussion of piracy. This is what I hoped for.

What you are left with is the legal battles of Peter, Fredrik and Gottfrid whose emotionless, apathetic attitudes towards the whole process does little for me to present them in a positive light. They certainly don't come across as heroes.

It does little to advance sensible discourse over amendments of copyright, where a glance on YouTube comments (search for TPB: AFK) reveals a steady stream of people who have already made their mind up.

And that, more than anything else, is the biggest problem with piracy. Everyone has made up their mind. This isn't a practical stance to help generate the discussions necessary to make changes.

And if this documentary isn't enough to whet your whistle, Alex Winters Napster documentary 'Downloaded' is also on it's way. Click here for details.

Such documentaries, along with high profile legal battles may help 2013 emerge as a key date in the timeline of digital piracy. 

Time will tell.

Official trailer for TPB: AFK

Tweets @musicpiracyblog

Friday, 1 February 2013

Dara O Briain's Science Club

Off topic, but for those of you in the UK with access to BBC iPlayer, click here for a great episode of Dara O Briain's Science Club all about music.

There's some great Music Psychology content in there, with questions raised over the pros and cons of technology. 

Don't be shy. Dip in.

Tweets @musicpiracyblog