Periodically, a survey will proclaim that illegal file sharers are among the entertainment industry’s best legitimate customers. It’s happened again in Amsterdam, where a new study says file-sharers buy as much content, or more, than everyone else.
Professor Nico van Eijk of the University of Amsterdam surveyed 1,464 Dutch citizens, and found that buying media and file-sharing “turn out to go hand in hand” across all forms of entertainment.
People who share music buy as much as their non-sharing peers, but they also spend more money on concerts and merchandise. Film file-sharers buy “significantly more” DVDs than people who don’t illegally download movies, and they go to the cinema just as often. File-sharing gamers are just as likely to purchase at least one computer game over a year, and they tend to buy more than people who obey the law.
“Note that no causal relationship is implied here,” says a report on the findings, which begins on page 42 in the journal Communications and Strategies. “Aficionados of music, games or films will typically buy more, get into related products more but also download more.”
Last year, a survey of Internet users in the United Kingdom by Ipsos Mori concluded that file-sharers spend 77 pounds per year on music, compared to 33 pounds per year for people who say they never download pirated tracks. In 2005, research firm The Leading Question said people who download music spend 4.5 times more through legitimate means than people who don’t.
The survey by van Eijk stops short of saying that piracy is a good thing for the industry, but notes that its negative effects are minimal. The author cautions against strict DRM and lawsuits, and instead advocates innovative business approaches. Of course, the entertainment industry will likely dismiss this survey, as they have with similar studies.