An economic study funded by the Canadian government has concluded that heavy Peer-to-peer (P2P) users buy more music, not less as had been posited by entertainment industry organizations like the MPAA and RIAA. Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair of Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, has more background on his blog.
And why, you say, should FGI care about a Canadian study about file-sharing technology like Napster? Because this technology, a fundementally different ‘Net architecture — and one that looks and acts like a library consortium! — is currently the architecture being used in LOCKSS and could be widely employed to much positive effect by libraries to build and share digital collections, that’s why 🙂
However, P2P has been under attack from entertainment industry organizations paranoid about copyright infringement. The attack has been so fierce that some states have begun looking into legislation against P2P (On September 16, 2004, Governor Schwarzenegger signed executive order S-16-04 charging the CA state CIO with the development of a statewide policy on P2P technology. See my P2P backgrounder for more). So legislation against P2P and the perpetuation of equating P2P with "piracy" has a deleterious effect on libraries and other cultural institutions trying to build systems of better digital access and preservation for the public.
- When assessing the P2P downloading population, there was "a strong positive relationship between P2P file sharing and CD purchasing. That is, among Canadians actually engaged in it, P2P file sharing increases CD purchases." The study estimates that one additional P2P download per month increases music purchasing by 0.44 CDs per year.
- When viewed in the aggreggate (ie. the entire Canadian population), there is no direct relationship between P2P file sharing and CD purchases in Canada. According to the study authors, "the analysis of the entire Canadian population does not uncover either a positive or negative relationship between the number of files downloaded from P2P networks and CDs purchased. That is, we find no direct evidence to suggest that the net effect of P2P file sharing on CD purchasing is either positive or negative for Canada as a whole."
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