Piracy isn’t very harmful – Study

A study by Ecorys, one of the oldest economic research and consulting companies in Europe, found that piracy does not have a significant influence on sales of copyrighted content – except for movies.

The research was commissioned by the European Commission in January 2014, and the 300-page study was delivered to the Commission in May 2015.

According to European Parliament member Julia Reda, the report was never published – but she obtained a copy.

The study concluded: “In general, the results do not show robust statistical evidence of displacement of sales by online copyright infringements”.

It should be noted that it does not necessarily mean that piracy has no effect, but only that the statistical analysis does not prove with sufficient reliability that there is an effect.

An exception is the displacement of recent top films.

The results show a displacement rate of 40%, which means that for every 10 recent top films watched illegally, four fewer films are consumed legally.

“People do not watch many recent top films a second time, but if it happens, displacement is lower: two legal consumptions are displaced by every 10 illegal second views.”

Estimated loss

This suggests that the displacement rate for older films is lower than the 40% for recent top films.

“All in all, the estimated loss for recent top films is 5% of current sales volumes.”

The study also analysed consumers’ “willingness to pay” for illegally-accessed creative content, to assess whether piracy might be related to price levels.

The researchers found that for films and TV series, current prices are higher than what 80% of illegal downloaders and streamers are willing to pay.

For books, music, and games, prices are at a level broadly corresponding to the “willingness to pay” level.

This suggests that a decrease in the price level would not change piracy rates for books, music, and games, but may have an effect on displacement rates for films and TV series.

Now read: Top piracy sites among South Africans

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Piracy isn’t very harmful – Study