updated 11:20 pm EDT, Sat March 31, 2012
French three strikes law not leading to sales help
A cross-check of facts at TorrentFreak has called into question the effectiveness of France's three strikes anti-piracy law, Hadopi. Despite claims (below) by the Hadopi office that bootleg file sharing is down 66 percent in France, new music sales data shows that revenues were still down 3.9 percent over 2011, two years after Hadopi had been enacted. It points to the measure's warning and disconnection process not only having little effect but possibly having hurt sales by reducing exposure to new music.
The lack of a clear link between piracy reduction and increased revenue might be explained by a potential misunderstanding by music labels of the value of pirated songs. Music industry groups such as the IFPI and RIAA often insist that every pirated song is a lost sale and have used this to bring damages to the tens of thousands of dollars, in some cases arguing that billions of dollars are being lost. However, it's commonly known that many pirates would have no intention of buying some of the content they get as they didn't like it enough or couldn't justify the expense.
The Hadopi claims also fly in the face of evidence showing just the opposite effect. In the US, where no three-strikes law is in effect and a warning-only system doesn't take effect until mid-July, album sales are up along with overall digital revenue.
Frequent criticism has pointed out that music industry organizations often deliberately sidestep changes in the nature of music sales themselves that may be the real causes for sales declines. As listeners now have the freedom to buy only the songs they actually enjoy or to subscribe to unlimited services like Spotify, they no longer need to pay the full price of an album to gamble that it will be worth the price.