"This is a really weird game, and you’ll find that most people will not want to play this."
Obscuring the facts in order to push for more heavy-handed spyware? Tsk tsk, nanny state surveillance overlords.
In 2013, the European Commission ordered a €360,000 ($430,000) study on how piracy affects sales of music, books, movies and games in the EU. However, it never ended up showing it to the public except for one cherry-picked section. That's possibly because the study concluded that there was no evidence that piracy affects copyrighted sales, and in the case of video games, might actually help them.
Done by Dutch organization Ecorys, the study might have been lost altogether if not for the effort of EU parliamentarian Julia Reda. She submitted a freedom of information request in July 2017, and after stalling twice, the commission finally produced it. The conclusion? "With the exception of recently released blockbusters, there is no evidence to support the idea that online copyright infringement displaces sales," Reda wrote on her blog.
It's not as though the EU just forgot the study in a drawer. It concluded that one specific category, blockbuster movies, is negatively impacted by piracy, with ten downloads leading to about four fewer cinema visits. Overall, that reduced sales for certain films by about 4.4 percent on average. Two EU Commissioners used those results in a 2016 academic paper to bolster claims that piracy impacts cinema ticket sales, digital rights group EDRi noticed.
As for the other industries that rely on copyright (games, books and music), the study found "no robust statistical evidence of displacement of sales by online piracy." In the case of games, it concluded that unauthorized playing might actually make it more likely users will buy them. None of those results ever appeared in any EU Commission academic studies or to the public anywhere else, however.
Why not? Reda observes that the EU has been trying to force ISPs to install filters that spy on all user-uploaded content, and may have hoped the study would justify such heavy-handed enforcement. "This seems to substantiate suspicion that the European Commission was hiding the study on purpose and cherry-picked the results they wanted to publish, by choosing only the results which supported their political agenda towards stricter copyright rules," EDRi wrote.
Shortly after the information request by Reda, the EU elected to release the study to the public after all. "We understand that the Commission says that it is a complete coincidence that its decision to publish the study, a year and a half after it was finished, happens to coincide with Ms. Reda's freedom of information request," said EDRi.
It's not surprising that piracy may be impacting sales less than before, considering that paid streaming and downloading have made it more economical for consumers to purchase content. That has resulted, for instance, in a music sale boom, with 2016 the best year since 2009, and 2017 looking even better. Yet, blockbuster films are still vulnerable to piracy. "This might be due to the higher price policy for films in comparison to the music, books and games industry," the EDRi says.
In other news, water found to be wet...
Anecdote: this year I have purchased 20 albums and 2 singles (old ones, for the b-sides). Of those purchases only one was not something I had deliberately downloaded a pirate copy of to see if it was worth buying (because it was from 2007, and I had largely forgotten about it, but I recalled the several good songs I knew when I found it and figured $4 was low enough to take a chance... And once more, I know those several good songs only because I got to listen to them freely on TripleJ).
So of the 21 things I pirated, how many would I have bought had I not done that? 1, maybe 2 (and that second one is an interesting case, because I got into that artist because they sold their early EPs through Bandcamp - y'know, the on-line store-front that allows me to listen to something in full as many times as I want before I buy, the general lack of which is exactly what leads me to piracy).
The key to selling to me is twofold: a) make damned good music, and b) permit me to listen to it in order to make up my mind. One of these is available to every artist ever, regardless of talent or backing.
Yeah, I'm not sure that the article actually gets what that report says right. You can read it here, and it looks to me to say that there's actual a reasonable amount of lost revenue due to piracy if you assume that there's value to consuming the content.
The only way you reach a conclusion that piracy doesn't have an economic impact is if you assume that the pirates would never pay for the content at all. That may be a fair assumption, but that sort of misses the mark - the question is not "will people who want free shit not pay to get shit they want for free?" It's "are musicians, artists, movie-makers, and other creative types damaged when their content is consumed without any form of compensation?"
My kids are all musical, my son is currently studying music, and I've a number of friends trying to make it as musicians. Piracy is a real problem for their incomes. I've talked to a few that currently avoid putting out an album because it's hard to even recover the cost of studio time. Worse, they've met people who would have paid them, but found their stuff for free and assumed it was cool to download it.
I'm all for reforming IP law - what we have now is stupid and benefits corporations (not even the artist, really) far more than it does the public. But let's not pretend that grabbing stuff for free doesn't have a real impact. Particularly at the "low end" when artists are trying to get going and need every penny to even make ends meet. Fortunately, there are sites like Patreon that help artists work around some of these issues, but it's not like they're making the same money that they would if you paid for what you consumed.
So yeah, let's fix the law. But let's not pretend that piracy doesn't have a direct impact on the artists. It does and it may even be keeping more than a few really talented people from sticking with it.
If a work makes a million dollars with a million paying customers watching it.
And the same work makes a million dollars with a million paying customers watching it and ten million non paying pirates watching it...
Then there was no financial loss.
The work made a million dollars either way.
If the same work with completely effective anti-piracy methods and social values could make a million and one dollars with a million and one paying customers watching it...
Then there was a financial loss.
The work could have made $1 more.
If the same work with some anti-piracy methods and social values could make a 990,900 dollars with 990,900 customers watching it and then later made an additional 10,002 dollars as people exposed to the work thru piracy bought it legally later when they could afford to
Then the work made more money than if piracy was completely blocked or if piracy was running completely rampant.
The work could have made $2 more.
The third case is one I've seen in my life. Especially regarding Blue October where piracy of one CD (who's songs are available free thru several channels) lead to sales of three CD's, two T-Shirts, and five concerts (so far).
You can't let piracy run completely rampant or no one will buy works.
But piracy also serves as a form of advertising.
People tend to be as moral as they can afford to be. They want to feel good about themselves. If copyright infringement is wrong (which it is for current* works) then that slight push of a possible fine or social disdain pushes people to buy things once they can afford to.
Most pirates are people who can't afford the works. So financial loss is minimized by this fact.
* I do not feel copyright infringements of works over 28 years old is immoral- indeed I feel the reverse. I think Disney has corrupted our copyright system which was intended to promote works which would then enter the public domain.
- Last edited Sat Sep 23, 2017 5:39 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Sat Sep 23, 2017 5:38 pm
I've got an 808 and a 303 and a record collection like the ABC
Per the paper, about half of piracy is people wanting to try before they buy. The never buy anything group is a small minority, accounting for the other half of piracy. That is, 80% of pirates / 50% of piracy could be addressed by simply providing low quality album / movie streams, demo games, etc. But these are not lost sales anyway, except when people tried something and decided not to buy -- akin to hearing a bad song on the radio and not buying the album.
Thirdly, a surprising finding is that unpaid first consumption is often followed by paid second consumption. For movies that have been seen twice and where consumption was not paid for on the first view, about 50% of second viewings were paid for. This can be seen as evidence for a “sampling effect.” According to Peitz and Waelbroeck (2006) sampling reveals product quality and helps consumers to make informed purchasing decisions. That is, consumers might use unpaid downloads to find out whether they actually like a movie and then buy this movie on DVD or see it in the cinema. Through this channel, unpaid consumption might actually stimulate movie sales.
Our findings have important implications for copyright policy. We find support for “incomplete displacement,” that is, a displacement rate smaller than one-to-one. This suggests that at least some of the movies that are consumed without pay would not have otherwise been purchased. This is in line with the view that unpaid movie consumption may sometimes lead to socially beneficial transactions. Nevertheless, our results show that lost sales due to movie piracy are substantial. The estimates that we provide can help policy makers to asses the efficient use of public resources to be spent on copyright enforcement of movies. In particular, since we find that virtually all the lost sales of movies are due to a very small group of individuals, most damages of movie piracy could therefore potentially be prevented with well targeted policies. Finally, the big differences in unpaid movie consumption across EU Member States that we documented in this paper suggest that institutional differences, especially regarding copyright law and its enforcement, might substantially affect lost sales. To explore this further is an interesting avenue for future research.
So it's that 20% of non-payers that are the problem, and I suspect many of them will simply be people with no disposable income. As a schoolkid I swapped tapes and disks and never paid for a thing, now as a grownup with a job I happily buy stuff.