A new study from the London School of Economics and Political Science has found that piracy may be helping, rather than hurting, the entertainment industry. The research team is urging the UK government to remain objective.
While the entertainment industry lobbyists continue to state that piracy is hurting the industry, it isn’t uncommon to hear that it is actually doing the opposite. Author Neil Gaiman for example, noticed that when he was pirated, sales of his books went up. After releasing his book “American Gods” for free and letting new readers discover him, his sales spiked by 300% the following month. Several studies have reached similar conclusions as well, but are often quickly silenced by industry lobbyists who fund their own reports. Now, a media policy brief from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) is joining the debate and is urging the British government to remain objective when making laws regarding copyright infringement.
LSE’s report suggests that indeed, the entertainment industry remains healthy, and piracy may even have some positive effects: The gaming industry is as profitable as it has ever been and the US film industry is breaking records. The report states that “Despite the Motion Picture Association of America’s (MPAA) claim that online piracy is devastating the movie industry, Hollywood achieved record-breaking global box office revenues of $35 billion in 2012, a 6% increase over 2011,” Indeed, the music industry is seeing good times too: “Contrary to the industry claims, the music industry is not in terminal decline, but still holding ground and showing healthy profits. Revenues from digital sales, subscription services, streaming and live performances compensate for the decline in revenues from the sale of CDs or records,” says Bart Cammaerts, one of the study’s authors.
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The report goes on to mention how free distribution through services like SoundCloud and YouTube have helped promote artists and increase their sales, and also points to studies which have shown that pirates spend more money on entertainment products and services than those who do not pirate. “Within the creative industries there is a variety of views on the best way to benefit from online sharing practices, and how to innovate to generate revenue streams in ways that do not fit within the existing copyright enforcement regime,” continues the report. Ultimately, the researchers hope the British government will take their words into consideration and review the UK Digital Economy Act objectively, without input from lobbyists.