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Music Pirates Are Also Most Prolific Buyers, New Report

Posted by: , 13:27 AEDT, Thu October 18, 2012

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A new study has found that people who pirate a lot of music are also the music industry's best customers, and that online downloading isn't as popular as getting music from friends/family or ripping CDs
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An upcoming report has found that people who download a lot of pirated music, the ones that the music industry is trying to kick off the Internet, are also keen buyers of legal music.

The report titled Copy Culture Survey is due to be released soon by the American Assembly, a public policy forum associated with Columbia University. The report was compiled by conducting thousands of telephone interviews both in the United States and Germany. This week, a preview of the report was released, showing user behaviour in relation to music file-sharing and purchasing.

It turns out that an average music lover who admits to high levels of piracy (labelled as a "P2P user") has a much larger music collection than those that say they don't engage in a lot of piracy. This is neither surprising nor unexpected, but what was more interesting was that the so called heavy pirates also has, on average, a larger *legal* music collection than those that purchased go most of their songs legally. 30% larger in the United States, in fact.

The result was even more pronounced for German users, but the smaller sample size there means the US data is most likely a more accurate reflection of what is really happening.

American Assembly - Copy Culture Survey - Music File Collections: P2P Users vs non-P2P Users (US And Germany)
Source: American Assembly

All of this may come as a shock to the music industry, whose recent efforts have focused on kicking "P2P users" off the Internet. This study seems to suggest that if the music industry gets their way, they may end up preventing their best customers from buying music legally online as well. 

And the music industry's focus on web piracy may be misplaced as well, as the study showed that copying music from friends or family or ripping from CDs appear to be much more popular than online downloads, a conclusion that lines up well with the music industry's own research.

The conclusion seems to be though that music lovers love music so much that they try to obtain as much as possible, even if it means via less than legal means.

As to how these users determine what deserves to be purchased, and what deserves to be downloaded, the report does not go into details on this aspect. Perhaps it's to do with the quality of the track in question, the availability of it. Or people are simply restricted by a spending budget, that once reached, means they can only continuing sourcing music from free sources, which if true, would suggest there would be little financial gain from actually preventing piracy.


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