How Much Do Music and Movie Piracy Really Hurt the U.S. Economy?

(Photo: Srikrishna K)

Supporters of stronger intellectual property enforcement — such as those behind the proposed new Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) bills in Congress — argue that online piracy is a huge problem, one which costs the U.S. economy between $200 and $250 billion per year, and is responsible for the loss of 750,000 American jobs. 

These numbers seem truly dire: a $250 billion per year loss would be almost $800 for every man, woman, and child in America. And 750,000 jobs – that’s twice the number of those employed in the entire motion picture industry in 2010.

The good news is that the numbers are wrong — as this post by the Cato Institute’s Julian Sanchez explains. In 2010, the Government Accountability Office released a report noting that these figures “cannot be substantiated or traced back to an underlying data source or methodology,” which is polite government-speak for “these figures were made up out of thin air.” 

More recently, a smaller estimate — $58 billion – was produced by the Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI). But that IPI estimate, as both Sanchez and tech journalist Tim Lee have pointed out, is replete with methodological problems, including double- and triple-counting, that swell the estimate of piracy losses considerably.

So what’s the real number? At this point, we simply don’t know. And this leads us to a second problem: one which is not so much about data, as about actual economic effects.  There are certainly a lot of people who download music and movies without paying. It’s clear that, at least in some cases, piracy substitutes for a legitimate transaction — for example, a person who would have bought the DVD of the new Kate Beckinsale vampire film (who is that, actually?) but instead downloads it for free on Bit Torrent. In other cases, the person pirating the movie or song would never have bought it. This is especially true if the consumer lives in a relatively poor country, like China, and is simply unable to afford to pay for the films and music he downloads.  

Do we count this latter category of downloads as “lost sales”?  Not if we’re honest. 

And there’s another problem: even in the instances where Internet piracy results in a lost sale, how does that lost sale affect the job market? While jobs may be lost in the movie or music industry, they might be created in another. Money that a pirate doesn’t spend on movies and songs is almost certain to be spent elsewhere. Let’s say it gets spent on skateboards — the same dollar lost by Sony Pictures may be gained by Alien Workshop, a company that makes skateboards.

As Mark Twain once wrote, there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. However true that may be in general, statistics can be particularly tricky when they are used to assess the effects of IP piracy. Unlike stealing a car, copying a song doesn’t necessarily inflict a tangible loss on another. Estimating that loss requires counterfactual assumptions about what the world would have been like if the piracy had never happened — and, no surprise, those most affected tend to assume the worst. 

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  1. Kyle says:

    I feel like this information really needs to get in the hands of the congressmen and women that will be deciding whether to pass SOPA or the Protect IP act. The actual benefit of passing these laws is suspect at best.

    I think the bigger concern is the number of jobs that could be lost if these laws are passed. While a certain degree of copyright/patent protection is desirable, it stifles innovation because it makes it harder to climb on the shoulders of those that came before us. I think what has kept this country great for so long is innovation and I would hate for America to lose that edge.

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    • Mike B says:

      Big Content has already stifled enough creativity with their never ending copyright extensions and army of lawyers that drive even level services overseas just to avoid death by litigation. Now they want to try to shut down even that avenue and find ways to steam even more of the consumer’s hard earned money.

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  2. Tom says:

    Neil Gaiman says it best.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Qkyt1wXNlI&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    I’d argue the net effects of downloading will be good for the economy.

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  3. John says:

    This article fails to point out the future money made that could/will be made in many cases because of the piracy (This is impossible to quantify). Let me explain: Not everyone has a large amount of disposable income to download every song/album that he/she wants at any given time. However if an artist has an album pirated which in turn prompts the user to buy a ticket to a future show which could also include merchendise then the artist overall wins. Who is to say that individual will not buy future albums and tickets? If the artist puts out a quality product on a consistent basis then the money will be there.

    I do not want to defend piracy, but I do believe there are some hidden benefits that may not be seen on the surface. If you haven’t noticed many artists have been giving away free songs whenever a new album is released. Is this just a way to defend themselves against piracy? Or do they see the benefit to giving away free songs in order to gain fans that would otherwise choose not to buy their product? I’m sure this has been analyzed by the music/movie industry to death, but there is my take.

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    • ohHello says:

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      • Kguy says:

        I know that the MPAA has been making higher and higher profits every year in the last 10 years

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      • bob says:

        Many studies show that the actual total amount of money being spent on music is increasing, while the amount spent on the actual recordings is decreasing. So that does add up to more people at concerts, or the opportunity to tour more.
        http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100914/14214111013.shtml

        As far as TV, I know that I constantly see ads for other tv shows. Many of them I want to watch, but I can’t because there isn’t a convenient legal way for me to do so. If the shows were on a hulu or netflix type model, they’d pick up some revenue from me.

        But they’d rather lose me as a customer. Just like hollywood opposed the VCR, then it turned into revenue, they now oppose file sharing. Ironically, because it cuts into home ownership sales, which they originally opposed…

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      • Michael Peters says:

        Speaking as a former musician and a former recording industry student, musicians by far make the majority of their money from touring and mechandise (t-shirts, stickers, etc). Only the big name acts make any real money from music sales. The majority of the money from CD and digital music goes to the record companies.

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      • John says:

        I would agree with you that once a film or tv show is consumed there is a much smaller chance, compared to a musician, that the artist/people resposible for producing the work will see further compensation. I know personally once I watch a film/tv show, it is usually a one and done experience. The only arguement that I could make (and it may be a weak one) for piracy having a hidden benefit for film/tv would be “Word of Mouth”. Most people are risk averse and do not want to “steal” content over the internet if there is an easy and affordable alternative they will use it. So while one friend might watch a movie “Illegally” online, he/she might tell a friend to watch the same movie which will be either rented or purchased and in turn money has been generated for that particular work of art.

        To your point about whether or not musicians have become more profitable while touring…I can’t answer because I don’t know. However I do feel that the internet has opened up the world of music to many more musicians than in the past to make a consistent living. Artists are able to advertise and spread their music in a much more effective manner than in the past which basically only consisted of begging a radio dj to play their demo over the air. I also believe that awareness for local bars/clubs is higher than ever which adds to the opportunities for smaller musicians to make a living on tour.

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      • Marisa says:

        TV has already begun to solve this problem by allowing viewers to watch their shows online for free, with advertising paying the bill. I wonder if something could be set up like this for movies or would the profits from ads be too small?

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      • Jon says:

        Had I not pirated music I would have never listened to Iron Maiden, Joe Satriani, Heart, Steve Vai, John Petrucci, Eric Johnson…the list goes on…and I have seen them all live in concert, which costs a pretty penny-far more than a few CD sales. Otherwise the only music available to me would be the radio and television, which is always the same crap that I just plain don’t like. So basically those without mainstream taste would never have music to enjoy whatsoever because they’d never have any “gateway” music to get them into certain bands etc.

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      • greg says:

        Yeah, no one’s ever bought a t-shirt of a tv show/movie they liked or recommended it to a friend who paid for it. Or bought a movie on dvd to give as a gift. Nobody has ever downloaded one movie by a director and later gone to see his latest release; people are simply not that curious. Like 90% of whats wrong with the world, this war on piracy is just a gang of lawyers trying to squeeze blood from a turnip. They’d put you in jail for breathing air if they could get away with it. Your are stealing the oxygen generated by tree owners! How dare you just sit there and steal my oxygen for free? Sensing cash, another group of lawyers could sue the tree owners for stealing our carbon.

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      • Bob says:

        Money lost on cd sales doesn’t effect the artist as much as RIAA/MPAA would have you believe, only a very small percentage goes towards the artist, somewhere in the ballpark of 5-10%. A larger percentage of concert sales goes to the artist so yes, they are making more money now. The only ones losing money are the middlemen who rob not only the consumer but the artist as well.

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      • Alex says:

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    • Alex says:

      please don’t say that this is piracy, because it is not piracy. Nothing physical is being stolen, or denied. This is more like trespassing than stealing. Except we are on public property anyways. I can share a cd with a stranger, its not a crime. Just because the USA says it is, does not make it right. The only jobs that will get lost in this is the jobs of people jailed.

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  4. Mitch says:

    What about the positive economic effects? Greater demand for complementary goods like hard drives, higher bandwidth internet service, mp3 players, home media players, etc.

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    • Chris says:

      I agree with John. There are countless time where I’ve personally downloaded songs, albums or entire artist catalogs for free – but this has led me to discover many new “favorite” artists whose live shows I then pay money to see. If we assume that passing these anti-piracy laws would make it impossible to pirate music, one consequence would be a decrease in the discovery of new talented artists, since the cost of “trying out” a new album (let’s say it’s $10 – the cost of purchasing an album) would be a deterrent.

      I actually think that the availability of free/pirated music helps artists who make quality music and tour frequently (think Arcade Fire) while lowering income for artists whose only previous method of becoming “discovered” was to be manufactured and marketed by major record labels so that they could gain radio airplay (think Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez).

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    • ohHello says:

      The problem with this is that someone still have to bankroll the production of the music, TV shows, and films. It’s not like Western Digital and Apple are going to throw money at Paramount to make a movie so we can all download it for free.

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      • Michael Peters says:

        While movies are still quite expensive to produce, the costs of music production have been falling dramatically over the years as more and more of it moves to software. You need need some equipment and you still need talented engineers and producers, but it’s not nearly as expensive as it once was (especially when you take out the physical production of CDs).

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      • Ryan says:

        “but it’s not nearly as expensive as it once was (especially when you take out the physical production of CDs).”

        Maybe you were including this in your idea, but if not, I would add that expenses are also significantly reduced when one considers that since there is no longer a physical product, it no longer has to be transported / shipped.

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      • Mike B says:

        I’ll believe that piracy will actually stop shows and movies being made when I see it. Frankly I think that piracy puts some much needed pressure on big content to contain costs. The current copyright system has favored the media companies so much that it allows them to give no thought to keeping costs down as they are virtually ensured a profit if not by the new content, than by leaching off their decades old libraries.

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      • Danielle E. says:

        How much does it really cost to make yet another reality TV show? Rendering special effects currently takes a “render farm” of many computers to finish it in a reasonable time. But the various “@Home” distributed projects running on spare computer power show it could be done a different way. Take away the special effects costs, and the millions paid to star actors, and movies become a lot more feasible to fund without a studio.

        And yes, if a popular movie is downloaded a million times and saved to hard drives, that’s about $50-100 K in hard drive costs, not enough to fund the movie, but think of it as a perk. Graphics cards are already sold sometimes with a free game included. It would be a small step to include some high resolution films pre-loaded on a hard drive as a perk. Just don’t hire Paramount to make it, they are obscenely overpriced. The film industry in India averages 1/40 the cost per movie in production cost.

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  5. Dan says:

    Finally…the truth. To say piracy cost the economy “that” much money is crazy. Most of these products/items that are pirated wouldn’t be purchased in the first place. The other thing is sometimes items are pirated (like software) because a small business can’t afford the SW. Eventually business grows and they can afford it and do purchase SW, licenses and hire people.

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  6. Nir Kozlovsky says:

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    • Nathan says:

      I have a fairly simple answer for your car theft example, Nir, though I assume you’ve heard it before, since I’ve heard the answer about 10,000 times. The difference between car theft and the copyright violation that is online piracy is that in one case, someone has actually lost property, and in the other, both people have the same or more amount of property.

      Let’s look at that example more closely. When a person steals a car, the car dealership no longer has that car. They can no longer sell it, because it does not exist in their hands. That means, if they spent $10,000 to acquire it, they have lost $10,000. In order for Disney to experience the same loss, pirating The Little Mermaid would have to mean that Disney no longer has the Little Mermaid to sell. They’d have to go through the expensive process of redrawing, reanimating, and recording sounds. Now, as you and I know, that’s absurd. Of course Disney still has The Little Mermaid. They haven’t lost it. They haven’t even lost the physical disk it comes on. They can continue to sell it as many times as they want without spending a cent to get a replacement copy. As such, they are in no way, shape, or form, as bad off as the car dealer who just got his car stolen.

      Now let’s consider the opposite. Suppose for a second that a car could be “copied” with no loss. Wouldn’t that be AMAZING!? And not just cars. What if food, clothes, water, gas…, essentially everything important to life could be copied in a way that doesn’t cause anyone else to lose those same essentials? That’d be the immediate end of world hunger. Power, the greatest expenditure of life, would no longer be an issue. If we could do to a car (and all these other things) what we can do to online music, I would consider it the height of immorality to decide not to do it. If you can end world hunger and thirst, you are the most evil person alive if you choose not to.

      Long story short, the comparison of theft to copyright violations like piracy is absolutely invalid and terribly wrong headed (when taken in reverse). I don’t really have a problem saying that piracy is morally wrong. Or even saying that piracy causes losses (we assume, based, as the article notes, on no actual way to record losses) for one industry, though possibly not for the economy as a whole (that part, also as noted in the article, is unknown). Those things are fine. But calling piracy “theft” is the height of illogical thinking.

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      • ohHello says:

        Let’s say you come up with an idea for a new invention, spend a year or two of your life refining it, and share your brilliant new product with me. I turn around and use your idea to sell an identical product just as yours is coming to market. Would you consider this theft? You still have the idea in your head. You still have a copy in your brain and it won’t cost you a penny to replace it.

        By that logic, do you also think anyone and everyone should be able to make exact copies competitors’ products?

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      • Matt says:

        Nathan, you’re right that Disney does not lose the movie that it has sitting in its vault. However, if piracy becomes ubiquitous, Disney will stop making movies.

        An animated feature costs around $200,000,000 nowadays. If no one buys the DVDs or pays for the downloads or goes to the theater or subscribes to a streaming service that then pays the studio for the rights, the movie will not make a profit. If the movies don’t make a profit, the studios will stop making them.

        Don’t think the internet will be flooded with indie films. Even the lowest-budget films cost thousands of dollars, and that’s with actors and crew working for free. They work for free with the expectation that, should the movie make a profit, they’ll be paid. Or, at the very least, that they will have the opportunity to be paid for future films. If studios stop making movies because they no longer make a profit, then no one will believe they have a future as a movie star/director/cinematographer/etc.

        Movies require hundreds of people and thousands of man-hours to reach the level of quality we, the audience, have grown accustomed to. Even as filmmaking equipment becomes less expensive, time and manpower will always be a necessity in a way that’s simply not true for most forms of art.

        I’m not saying all filmmaking will cease; but it will be reduced in a way few people can fully appreciate.

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      • Nathan says:

        Matt and ohHello,

        I feel like you think I’m arguing in favor of piracy. I’m not. I’m arguing against using poor analogies to try to explain why piracy is wrong.

        While I’m not particular in favor of piracy, I do have an opinion on how much it matters to the bottom line of most content creators. That opinion would be “it doesn’t matter at all.” Honestly, that’s the whole opinion. The internet is a realm of convenience. I think movie studios would have absolutely no difficulty making BILLIONS of dollars by packaging movies DRM free and selling those movies in good quality and using extraordinarily convenient methods of transferring online.

        As far as I can tell, every single example of a DRM free sale has been a wild success. iTunes is insanely successful with MP3s. Amazon is likewise successful. The ENTIRETY of the RIAA’s losses over the past 10 years can be laid directly at the feet, not of pirates, but of Amazon and iTunes, as both created the model of selling singles instead of albums. Since that model has taken place, the number of RIAA “units” has dramatically increased. It’s just that now, instead of selling albums, they are selling individual songs.

        If the MPAA followed that exact same philosophy of making their content available early and easily, they would become wealthy, WEALTHY men and women, because the MPAA doesn’t sell b-side filler. Everything that comes out of the MPAA is a-side quality to somebody or another.

        Honestly, it’s a little ironic to me that the RIAA went DRM-free first. They benefitted from selling a great deal of crap just to get to a single diamond over the past 20 years. The MPAA, meanwhile, sells ONLY diamonds. If I were in change of both industries, I’d have gone DRM-free at the MPAA a decade or more before the RIAA did.

        Long story short: Do I think piracy is right or wrong? I don’t give two craps. Do I think piracy takes a big bite out of the MPAA pie? I honestly don’t know. Do I think the MPAA is “doing it” wrong and, as a result, is actively pushing more people towards piracy? Absolutely yes. Do I think the MPAA is leaving a huge pile of money on the table as they stare in fear and bewilderment at the vast possibilities of the internet? Obviously.

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      • Matthew says:

        I agree with you in terms. But if everything were to be copied, what would be the incentive of creation, hard work and innovation? If the movie, tv and music industry stop being profitable, it will cease to exist! I don´t think that downloading can be stopped, or should. But if the entertainment industry doesn´t find a creative way of maintaning revenues, what will happen? We´ll end up watching home-made videos and/or purely artistic and/or politically driven. This would be good or bad?

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      • Nathan says:

        Matt, piracy is ubiquitous right now. There is no “if it becomes ubiquitous.” The thing that prevents it from going even more main stream has absolutely nothing to do with really strong copyright laws, the fear of getting caught, or DRM. The thing preventing it from going mainstream is the fact that people, by and large, are fully willing to pay a reasonable fee for content. The vast majority of human kind believes in the concept of fair play. They don’t feel socially comfortable with enjoying content that they are supposed to pay for, without first paying for it.

        the incentive to create would be exactly the same before and after the entertainment industry decided to fight the convenience of piracy by being even more convenient. People would pay them money for a DRM-free copy of of the easily obtained song or video. Boom. That’s it. Literally the only problem is that the leaders of the entertainment industry don’t seem capable of grasping this concept.

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      • Wizard Prang says:

        OhHello should have taken out a Patent. That’s what they’re for.

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      • Sacrosanction says:

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      • Bok says:

        Sacrosanction: there are two problems with that reasoning.
        First, your point hinges on the assumption that “no one will pay for something that they can get for free”. As Nathan has already pointed out several times, yes, people will pay for things they can illegally get for free, en masse, especially if they can get it faster, more conveniently and safer by paying.

        Second, the stolen-car analogy itself consists of counting every single pirated copy as a stolen one that could have been sold without piracy but cannot be sold again now, while you are still counting only the CDs you printed. In other words, you are counting 1000 out of X pirated copies as 1000 CDs you can no longer sell, so that’s 1000 CDs that are “stolen” from you. Given my “First” above, I’d say that’s not entirely reasonable either (had the CDs been a convenient option, you would still easily have been able to sell all 1000 of them), but it is at least understandable. However, the stolen-car analogy counts ALL X out of X pirated copies as “stolen”, even if there would never have been X copies sold without piracy. That is a very serious flaw because the lost revenue is not X copies worth. (and given the “First” above, it’s probably orders of magnitude less than X)

        Let’s say you printed 1.000 CDs and hear that a 1.000.000 people downloaded the contents of your CD. Certainly it is not reasonable at all to claim that 1.000.000 CDs worth was stolen from you, since you only had 1.000 CDs to begin with! Even if we change from CDs to digital material (no production cost, so effectively infinity prints; nobody will argue that piracy here loses you infinity money), it is not a realistic assumption that all 1.000.000 people that pirated would have paid you for it had they not been able to. However, that is precisely the requirement for the stolen-car analogy to make even a semblance of sense.

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      • Khalil says:

        This is the best analogy I have seen described so far! As an Independent label owner and artist, I have been trying to figure out the logic of the music industry concerning ‘piracy’ for years, since the Napster days. We’re talking digital products. that means by definition we are not necessarily losing money. if someone downloads one of my songs via torrent (I wish I was that popular), logic tells me that they will be playing my song for people in their sphere of influence, which in turn gives me and my label more recognition, and in return theoretically more sales down the line. That’s called promotion. Record labels had a long standing practice of giving away 10% of the manufactured goods to DJ’s and other spheres of influence to garner more sales. What’s the difference with downloading? The more people downloading, free or not, the more sales it is possible to get. This is just pure greed, that’s all it is, and it’s speculative alchemy to assume anything in terms of media arts, as there are qualitative issues such as taste, affordability, exposure, and many other factors that can’t be quantified that go into whether anyone would even BUY a product, let alone download it for free. Geez, what a world!

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    • William Sears says:

      I have a problem with the word “piracy”. Piracy usually involves taking someone prisoner and holding them for ransom by threatening them with severe bodily injury because they were on the high seas. Organizations like the RIAA use something similar when they detect what they suspect to be illegal sharing. They threaten people with a huge, expensive lawsuit causing most victims to pay the ransom.

      Now, the analogy isn’t perfect, and the victims actually are violating the law in many (even most) cases. But the transgression is common, of relatively small consequence at the individual level, and the attack is opportunistic. I would argue that the behavior of the RIAA is closer to being a Pirate than those engaging in illegal file sharing.

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      • neilb says:

        Yes! This a framing issue that makes the offender seem more amoral than sharing is in reality. Like all mass-media concepts, we have to challenge the terms used to describe it as much as we do the underlying concept. To do otherwise is to lose a fight before the fight starts.
        Besides, downloading isn’t what gets someone in legal trouble, uploading is.
        I suggest “Sharers” instead of “Pirates.”
        Arguing that pirates are bad is easy. Arguing that sharers are bad is difficult. :)

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      • Sacrosanction says:

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      • BGH122 says:

        @Sacrosanct:

        I don’t think you understand what people are arguing here. ‘Sharing’ the money in someone’s bank account deprives them of that money. If you take X dollars from a person, then they no longer have X dollars. If someone ‘takes’ X digital media from you, then you still have infinite digital media. I genuinely cannot fathom what you can’t understand about this incredibly simple concept.

        I understand that you feel that people who’ve illegally downloaded your music would have otherwise bought it, and hence you feel that they’ve ‘stolen’ potential money from you, but even if this were the case — and I’m about to show why it probably isn’t — then it’s still not valid to say that they’ve stolen money from you, since the ‘stolen’ money was never even in your possession at any point in time. The very most you could say is that they’ve deprived you of potential revenue, but I guess that doesn’t sound as flashy — or immoral — as ‘stealing’.

        Now, as to why it probably isn’t the case that you’ve lost anything. Here are just some of the potential groups the illegal downloaders fall into:

        1) People who would have bought your album had there not been a free alternative
        2) People who will still buy your album, even though they’ve downloaded it (the ‘try before you buy’ model of piracy)
        3) People who would never have bought your album for any number of reasons, ranging from poverty to just sheer selfishness
        4) People who haven’t even bothered to listen to your album, even though they’ve downloaded it (see The American Assembly’s ‘Copyright Infringement And Enforcement In The US’ study)

        These are just a few examples. If you see the above-mentioned study, they show how almost no-one (~2% of US citizens) fall into category 3. I know it’s rough to hear, but the bogeyman of piracy almost certainly didn’t make your album flop. I can’t say what did, because I don’t know (although the price sounds damn high, and the choice of selling it at such a high price bundle is very poor since this will almost certainly kill all impulse purchases and limit your purchases solely to people who already know of you). What I can say is that we need proper, unbiased studies of piracy like the above-mentioned; it was the first study I could find that wasn’t either hilariously moralising for a ‘scientific’ study, or extremely lax in its methodology.

        In short, take the following quote from the author J Konrath:

        “I have shown significant growth in the face of freebies and piracy. So have many others.
        While it is impossible to prove a direct link between piracy and sales, showing rising sales in the face of piracy is a damn good indicator that piracy isn’t harmful. Or if it is harmful, it isn’t enough to impact growth.

        This isn’t opinion. It is fact. And it is repeatable.

        You cannot prove piracy has harmed you. But I can prove it hasn’t harmed me. Ergo, my argument is sound.”

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    • B says:

      Your car example does not work in this instance because a car is a rival good, while intellectual property is non rival, huge difference.

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  7. Dale Sheldon-Hess says:

    We “don’t know”? Nice cop out. And the only estimate you include was the high end, the $58 billion and up, obviously still exaggerated when held to the standards the GAO used on the previous IPI claims. Why not include Lee’s or Sanchez’ conclusion?

    Lee: $6.1 billion, less than 10 percent of the new IPI claim.

    Sanchez: $446 million, less than ONE percent of the new IPI claim.

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  8. Chris says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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    • MYg says:

      There is something not mentioned so far, I use to offer music, books, DVDs, etc. to friends and family when celebrating: anniversaries, Christmas, new year’s eve, etc. In case of electronic content, I always offer genuine piece of art since it often come with a nice box, nice pictures, good subtitles, many language tracks, interesting bonuses, and so on. But in many cases, I had discover the piece of art thanks to friends that gave me the files.
      I gave you three examples:
      - I discovered Freakonomics and Superfreakonomics thanks to a friend that lend me the books in November 2011. I already offered 4 of them to family members in Christmas 2011.
      Frankly, I would never have read this book (especially since it is not widely known in France among computer scientists, my country, my job), if somebody else did not gave me the opportunity to try it for free.
      - I have watch ‘Avatar the last air-bender’ on websites offering the show in streaming, I watch it in English, and there is a good likelihood that the website did not respect the copyright. I have bought the whole show in DVD to be able to watch it in German with my 4 year old daughter and help her get familiar with this language. As I know that the story is very good, it is pleasure to pay for it. It was also rather a specific and complex need (I wanted also to be able latter to show her in English or French) and also it is pleasant to speak with her about the heroes of the story by pointing to their picture present on the DVD box.
      - there is a very good science-fiction editor that made available for free a ton of good and compleete e-books:
      “baen books” through webscription.org. I downloaded a lot of them. Know I am eager to know the following stories from the book I liked and logically I bought some of those books (and they are DRM free!).
      I also gave some of those e-books to friends and made advertising around me .
      If I understand you correctly you always need data for your analysis. My two cents: you should ask Baen editors about their sellings since they have taken that commercial strategy.

      Off course, there is a side effect: if I do not like the art, I do not buy or offer it. In my opinion, this access to the electronic content is making information available to people such that they are able to do better choices (it reminds me to the real estate agent story in your books, but I cannot explain it to myself why in a convincing way).

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      • adam says:

        Although you may think its ok to pirate films, as these coment’s have stated. Piracy is still stealing other peoples intellectual property. If the customer cant afford to by the DVD or song then they cant have it. Its the same with anything. You wouldn’t go into a cinema and refuse to pay because you cant afford it. Even though the true cost of piracy is unknown, it doesn’t mean its not affecting the industry.

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