Studies on file sharing

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Evaluation of the effects of the HADOPI law

This study from the M@rsouin laboratory, whose goal was to realize a premilinary evaluation of the effects of the Hadopi law on the practices of French Internet users, reveals that:

  • Barely 15% of the Internet users who used Peer-to-peer networks before the adoption of the Hadopi law, permanently stopped to do so since.
  • Among these ex-downloaders, only one third gave up any form of digital illegal donwloading, whereas the other 2/3 turned towards alternative practices of illegal downloading, that are beyond the Hadopi law, such as illegal streaming (allostreaming,…) or downloading from file hosting sites (megaupload, rapidshare,…).
  • Although the number of Internet users going frequently on Peer-to-peer networks decreased, the number of "digital pirates" has slightly increased since the Hadopi law was voted.
  • Among the Internet users who still continue to donwload from Peer-to-peer networks, 25% of them declared that they have changed their illegal downloading habits since the Hadopi law was voted.
  • Finally, the "digital pirates" turn out to be, in half of the cases, also digital consumers (purchase of music and video on the Internet). Cutting the Internet connection for Peer-to-Peer networks users could decrease the size of the digital cultural content market by 27%. An extension of the Hadopi law to all kind of illegal downloading would potentially exclude half of digital cultural content consumers from the market.

The "pirates" are better consumers of "legal" culture

  • 02Nov2009, current affairs webzine Slate's French sister site, points out in this article entitled "Pirates spend more on music" a report by BBC news citing the results of a survey about piracy among more than 1000 people commissioned by Demos researchers. This online poll has found that people who admit downloading music through illegal file-sharing spend nearly twice as much as those who claim they do not and that current price of music files is far higher than what customers are willing to pay. Websites (including peer-to-peer systems and streaming services) visited by music listeners are also explored.
  • 2009/09 - A study realized between January and March 2009 in 12 countries among 6500 Internet users by IPSOS Allemagne shows that French Internet users are not the World Champions of illegal downloading. This study also shows that in Germany "pirates are better consumers of "legal" culture than the German Internet users who don't donwload illegally. Sources: 21/09/2009 21/09/2009 22/09/2009
  • This note realized by M@rsouin presents the principal results of a survey on video consumption (or on audiovisual content consumption in general) on the Internet. We'll take a particular look to the statistic vision of online video consumption. The conclusion of this study: "Those who download videos on PP networks, also are those who buy more DVDs."
  • A study conducted in late 2008 by the Norwegian School of Management BI (Norwegian version is here) cited by ars technica on 20Apr2009 shows that "the people who use unpaid downloading have ten times the consumption of paid downloads than those who do not use unpaid downloading".
  • This study commissioned by the Canadian Ministry of Industry in 2006-2007 finds "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" but that, on the contrary, "among Canadians actually engaged in it, P2P file-sharing increases CD purchasing"

Economical effects of filesharing

  • A new report (2009) commissioned by the Dutch government, about the economical and cultural consequences of filesharing on music, film and video games industries concludes that illegal downloading has a positif global effect on the economy.
  • This article from explains that a balance between small and big actors of the music market is already being reached thanks to P2P networks.
  • This tendancy seems to be confirmed by a 2004 study of D. Blackburn, Ph.d. student of Harvard On-line piracy and Recorded Music Sales. This study, although it doesn't take into account the rise of CD sales in the US for 2004 (after the prices were slightly lowered), is quite acurate on the dynamic of CD sales. A figure page 32 is quite explicit on the fact that the 75% "smaller" artists on the sales scale would absolutely not be affected by downloading, and only the 25% more sold could potentiallt suffer from it.
  • These results seem to confirm those from this 2004 study of the Harvard Business School, "The effect of file sharing on record sales - An empirical analysis", that has been criticised since, because it only compared downloading in a given week, with the CD sales data of that same week. Other studies are more pessimistic: the one done in 2003 by the FNAC (if someone can find a link to this study...) based on interviews of many actors of the music industry, shows that on the 15% fall of the French market in 2003, P2P would only be responsible for 2 or 3 of them.
  • The Economics M.A. of Eric Boorstin, Princeton University, "Music Sales in the Age of File Sharing" pushes the analysis very far. It concludes that peer to peer would have a negative impact on younger people when it comes to buying CDs, but in the other hand it would have a positive impact on older people, and that both effects put together could result in a neutral effect, if not positive. E. Boorstin also gives many figures of discs sales (it's intersting to notice how the turnover doubled between 1983 and 1993 for instance, as well as the life cycles of the different media.) and states the different causes that might be at the origin of the recent fall of CD sales: end of the CD as a medium, last sales of audio tapes, news social habits, artistic choices of the majors less and less risky,...
  • A report from the OECD in November 2005, "Contenus numériques haut débit : la musique" sets a very complete picture of the history of the music industry, its economic models, the place of the Internet and peer-to-peer.
    «Quoi qu’il en soit, le téléchargement de musique en P2P ne conduit pas tous les utilisateurs à substituer systématiquement ce type d’acquisition aux modes traditionnels de consommation. Il est par conséquent difficile d’établir « le coût du partage illégal de fichiers ». Cette difficulté est reflétée dans les résultats des études sur la question et dans les critiques méthodologiques dont ont pu faire l’objet ces études (faibles taux de réponse, défauts de conception des études, problèmes de définition des modèles pour les travaux empiriques, etc.). Certaines études démontrent que le partage non autorisé de fichiers a un effet négatif sur les ventes de musique, mais d’autres démontrent qu’il a un effet positif ; et d’autres encore concluent qu’il a un impact nul. D’après certains, les utilisateurs substituent le téléchargement à l’achat légal, ce qui réduit les ventes, mais d’autres avancent que le partage de fichiers permet de découvrir certaines musiques avant de les acheter. La plupart des études confirment que ces deux phénomènes opèrent en même temps – selon les utilisateurs : le partage non autorisé de fichiers conduit certains à augmenter leur consommation et d’autres à la réduire.»
  • Concerning the connection of artists (at least those who are not influenced by their producers) to information technologies, a study of Pew Internet and American Life Project, called "Artists, Musicians, and the Internet", shows that 3% of the polled artists over 2755 think that "the Internet would make it difficult to protect their art against illegal donwloading ou non authorized uses", against 79% who think that it would have no effect (see p.24 of the study). However, they are many to see distribution through the Internet as an other source of opportunities, of promotion, and even of remuneration.

Adapting to new technologies

  • This OECD study "Peer to Peer Networks in OECD Countries", especially based on the measurement of the number of P2P users in different countries, and other factual measurements (numbers of sharing users, evolution of this number...), seems quite objective. Although it stays neutral on the impact that P2P could have on the music industry "crisis", this study outlines many commercial applications made possible through these technologies.
  • At least, in order to take a little bit of perspective about the weeping of the music industry, a wonderful job of Marc Bourreau (Economist, lecturer à ENST, , Département EGSH / Department of Economics et CREST-LEI) and Benjamin Labarthe-Piol, "Peer-to-peer and the music industry crisis: a historical perspective" shows that since its creation and on many occasions, the music industry has been yelling that "XXXXX is going to kill the music industry" (replace XXXXX by "mucis on the radio", "audio tape", and so on...). The study explains that if the industry is still here, it is because after a certain amount of time it always manages to adapt to technological innovations.

Others documents


Jean Cedras' report (in French) on graduated response, hushed up by Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres' advisers when he was Minister of Culture.