A new study published by the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC) has found that music sales may not be affected by music piracy after all.
The study conducted by the JRC's Institute for Prospective Technological Studies says that making illegal music downloads unavailable will in most cases not lead to the same user to buy the music legally, which goes against the assertions made by the music industry.
The music industry, expectedly, rejected the study by saying it is "flawed and misleading".
The study looked at the behaviour of 16,000 European citizens over the course of a year, trying to find a correlation between piracy and sales. But what they found could turn commonly held believes about piracy on its head.
"It seems that the majority of the music that is consumed illegally by the individuals in our sample would not have been purchased if illegal downloading websites were not available to them," the study concluded.
"Although there is trespassing of private property rights (copyrights), there is unlikely to be much harm done on digital music revenues," the study's report said in addition.
More controversially, the study also found some interesting positive correlations between piracy and music sales. For every ten percent increase in visits to illegal music websites, the study actually found a two percent rise in music sales, and up to four percent in UK and France. "clicks on legal purchase websites would have been two percent lower in the absence of illegal downloading activities," the study found.
And the increasing popularity of legal streaming sites also seems to be helping with music sales. "According to our results, a 10% increase in clicks on legal streaming websites lead to up to a 0.7% increase in clicks on legal digital purchases websites," the report said.
But the IFPI, a trade group that represents the recording industry worldwide, rejected the study outright. It said that the findings of the study "disconnected from commercial reality", and that the Nielsen Netview data used did not accurately measure actual music transactions, merely visits to legal outlets.
The IFPI also criticized the report for not taking into account physical music sales, which has been on a steady decline since the introduction of digital music