updated 04:15 pm EST, Tue January 20, 2009
Dutch study file sharing
A study commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs has just concluded that the net economic effects of file sharing for music, movies and games are positive. The resulting 142-page report, put together by research company TNO, doesn't narrow the results to strictly illegal content but argues that, as consumers save money on unnecessary purchases and spend it on more wanted content, they save much more in wasted spending than music production companies lose.
Furthermore, the report says that each unpaid download does not directly equal one lost paying customer. By the numbers, the report finds 2.3 percent of the country's Internet users paid for music, game or movie downloads in the past year, while 6.5 percent indicated they made purchases from iTunes and 2.9 percent bought music from Amazon MP3.
Downloading music can turn into purchases, however, the report found, as users will download a certain artist, find that they like it, and support the artist by purchasing their other CDs. Movies, however, once downloaded, aren't likely to be purchased, as they are often viewed only once.
TNO also found that 35 percent of the Dutch have downloaded music without paying for it, and estimates between 1.5 billion and 2 billion songs are downloaded every year. Those who download also purchase the same amount of media or games as those who do not download at all, and even buy more games than the latter group as well.
Critics from music and movie label organizations such as the MPAA and RIAA in the US, as well as the IFPI abroad, have repeatedly argued that file sharing has a purely detrimental effect on music sales and regularly attribute plummeting CD sales to illegally traded files rather than to shifts in buying habits. [via Ars Technica]