Movie Piracy & Streaming May Actually Increase Sales
Conventional wisdom dictates that piracy hurts the finances of the artists and corporations who produce the product. That notion has been aggressively challenged by media pirates, and they’ve been pretty effective in making their case.
Essentially, pirates argue that downloading content acts as a promotional tool. Much like a person listening to a free song on the radio will go out and buy the music they like. It’s actually a very solid argument, and it has been embraced by many artists themselves. Corporations, however, have fought tooth and nail against this viewpoint.
In the US, you actually face more punishment for downloading a song or movie than you do for most felony crimes. It’s a sad fact I’ve highlighted on my show numerous times.
While the line in the sand has been drawn by both sides of this debate, there is little actual evidence supporting either side’s claims … until now.
Japanese Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI) recently did a study of how Anime piracy affects sales. Their results are very interesting.
This government department decided to do a study on the effects of piracy and YouTube uploads on the sale of anime. What they found was that sales were actually increased when these illegal and streaming options were available.
The study concludes that:
Estimated equations of 105 anime episodes show that (1) YouTube viewing does not negatively affect DVD rentals, and it appears to help raise DVD sales; and (2) although Winny file sharing negatively affects DVD rentals, it does not affect DVD sales.
YouTube’s effect of boosting DVD sales can be seen after the TV’s broadcasting of the series has concluded, which suggests that not just a few people learned about the program via a YouTube viewing. In other words YouTube can be interpreted as a promotion tool for DVD sales.
It seems round one has gone to the pirates.
I’m not advocating piracy here, of course. You should only download content that is permitted to be downloaded. As I said earlier, some artists actually encourage you downloading their product, others don’t.
This does put an interesting twist on the argument of piracy. More access to the product creates more exposure, and therefore leads to more sales.