An interesting study leaked today that is sure to put a thorn in the side of the RIAA. The BI Norwegian School of Management (via Gizmodo) found that people who download free music from filesharing sites like BitTorrent and The Pirate Bay are ten times more likely to download music through legal means (iTunes, Amazon, etc.) than others.
The study looks like a moral vindication for music pirates, but I think the numbers might be a bit off. Details from the study aren’t entirely clear, as they have only been published in Norwegian and have yet to be professionally translated, but the biggest problem to me so far is that the conclusions are drawn from a survey of 1,901 participants over the age of 15. It’s doubtful that all the volunteers told the truth when asked how much music they purchased legally. Of course, those who claimed they don’t download pirated music could be lying as well.
The theory that music pirates spend more money on legal music has been concluded in other studies and is likely true, but this recent “10x more likely” study conclusion just seems a bit presumptuous. In any event, if these numbers are even close to accurate, wouldn’t that mean that cutting down on piracy will actually hurt the record industry?
We might be close to answering this question by following trends in Sweden, where a new law called IPRED was enacted on the first of April that helps the music industry prosecute illegal filesharers. In this article from Royal Pingdom, they found that two weeks after the law was enacted, internet use plummeted, but sales actually went up. Check out their interesting analysis for details.