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The EU did not Publish a 300-Page Study that couldn't Find Proof Piracy Harms Sales

Saya

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Jul 16, 2007
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The European Commission paid €360,000 (about $428,000) for a study on how piracy impacts the sales of copyrighted music, books, video games, and movies. But the EU never shared the report—possibly because it determined that there is no evidence that piracy is a major problem.

The Dutch firm Ecory was commissioned to research the impact of piracy for several months, eventually submitting a 304-page report to the EU in May 2015. The report concluded that: “In general, the results do not show robust statistical evidence of displacement of sales by online copyright infringements. That does not necessarily mean that piracy has no effect but only that the statistical analysis does not prove with sufficient reliability that there is an effect.”

The report found that illegal downloads and streams can actually boost legal sales of games, according to the report. The only negative link the report found was with major blockbuster films:“The results show a displacement rate of 40 percent which means that for every ten recent top films watched illegally, four fewer films are consumed legally.”

The study has only come to light now because Julia Reda, a Member of the European Parliament representing the German Pirate Party, posted the report on her personal blog after she got ahold of a copy through an EU Freedom of Information access to document request.

The European Digital Rights organization suggested in a blog post that the full contents of this report was intentionally suppressed, pointing to a 2016 academic paper by two Commission officials. The paper, “Movie Piracy and Displaced Sales in Europe,” only mentioned the part of the Ecory report that highlights the relationship between piracy and blockbuster film lost sales, and excluded the other findings of the report. Additionally, the paper didn’t even disclose that the cited information came from Ecory’s study.
Julia Reda's blog

Does copyright infringement negatively affect legal sales? This is a fundamental question with profound implications on the way copyright and copyright enforcement policy should work.

In January 2014, the European Commission awarded the Dutch company Ecorys a contract worth €360.000 to conduct a study on the question.

The 300-page study was delivered to the Commission in May 2015, but was never published. Until today – I have managed to get access to a copy: Estimating displacement rates of copyrighted content in the EU

The study’s conclusion: With the exception of recently released blockbusters, there is no evidence to support the idea that online copyright infringement displaces sales. While this result is not unique, but consistent with previous studies, it begs the question:

Why did the Commission, after having spent a significant amount of money on it, choose not to publish this study for almost two years?

There is no evidence to support the idea that online copyright infringement displaces sales.Tweet this!

Copyright policy is usually based on the underlying assumption that copyright infringement has a direct negative effect on rightsholders’ revenues. The most recent example for this kind of reasoning is the Commission’s highly controversial proposal of requiring hosting providers to install content filters to surveil all user-uploaded content. The Commission claims this measure is necessary to address a “value gap”, a supposed displacement of value from licensed music streaming services to hosting services like YouTube, which host a mixture of licensed and unlicensed content. To properly discuss such far-reaching proposals, we clearly need to have access to all available evidence on whether such displacement actually takes place in practice.

This study may have remained buried in a drawer for several more years to come if it weren’t for an access to documents request I filed under the European Union’s Freedom of Information law on July 27, 2017, after having become aware of the public tender for this study dating back to 2013. The Commission failed twice to respond to my request in time, but I expect a final answer with the study and some supplemental material to be officially released by the end of this week.

I would like to invite the Commission to become a provider of more solid and timely evidence to the copyright debate. Such data that is valuable both financially and in terms of its applicability should be available to everyone when it is financed by the European Union – it should not be gathering dust on a shelf until someone actively requests it.
 

TI82

Banned
Aug 28, 2014
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It did seem to harm new movie sales, but more likely it shows that we should do further research
 

Volimar

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Jun 11, 2011
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Is not publishing a study the same as suppressing it? We don't know their reasoning, but calling it suppression makes it sound more nefarious than it maybe is.
 

Nokterian

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Jul 20, 2012
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EU sometimes good things, sometimes very bad things..October 10th there going to vote for a new copyright law and if this law goes into effect it will censor the whole web through a filter it is terrible, it will censor really anything you want to link, like news snippets,youtube,meme's everything.

And seeing the study that nothing is wrong there doing this for corporations not people.
 

Sad Affleck

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Apr 5, 2016
2,914
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Not surprising in the least. Piracy is a service problem as we've already seen with music and games. Movies are hurt by piracy because movie studios do not provide a good service. People don't want to go to theaters any more, they want to watch the movie in their homes. As soon as movie studios start providing virtual day 1 tickets for home use piracy will become a non-issue.
 

spineduke

Unconfirmed Member
Apr 19, 2007
3,813
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The report found that illegal downloads and streams can actually boost legal sales of games, according to the report
Pro DRM people will never accept this as a possibility.

Copyright culture needs a serious reworking.
 

fanboi

Banned
Oct 18, 2007
13,991
1
1,000
Sweden
Hm, already posted I believe here on GAF.

Someone mentioned that it was clickbait title when you read the contents.
 

BlackNMild2k1

Member
May 15, 2005
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It's always been my thought that the majority of those that would consume the content (software, games, moves, tv, etc etc) illegally, never would have purchased it legally anyway (not at the price it's normally being sold at).
But since more people end up consuming certain content, then there is more people talking about it which may in turn persuade others who were curious to maybe obtain it legally.

And in some cases, there are those that have already obtained or have access to said content legally, but may use other avenues for convenience sake.
 

HariKari

Member
Jun 28, 2013
7,298
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Thread title is missing the "possibly".
People being more likely to buy music they've listened to, even if it was pirated, has been a pretty consistent finding in studies like these. It's not much of a stretch to extend that to games.

Movies have a service, convenience, and pricing mismatch right now, as well as dealing with time sensitivity. Hundreds of thousands of people eagerly signing up for moviepass is an example. There haven't been many attempts to fix this, historically speaking. Other industries have had their Steam or Spotify equivalent but not movies, so piracy persists.
 

Yaska

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Jun 26, 2010
1,450
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If this is the research I think it is, I have read it and it has been readily available. Iirc the research found that it was in less than 10% of movies that piracy actually boosts sales.
 
Study: "That does not necessarily mean that piracy has no effect but only that the statistical analysis does not prove with sufficient reliability that there is an effect."

Thread title: "study that found that piracy doesn't harm sales"

Could we please not spindoctor facts in thread titles? Thanks.
 

PixelatedBookake

Junior Member
Aug 11, 2015
2,667
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Study: "That does not necessarily mean that piracy has no effect but only that the statistical analysis does not prove with sufficient reliability that there is an effect."

Thread title: "study that found that piracy doesn't harm sales"

Could we please not spindoctor facts in thread titles? Thanks.
Works for me! Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me! ☠☠☠

Jk lol
 

uncelestial

Member
Feb 25, 2015
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You are spinning their findings. Finding that "piracy doesn't harm sales" is a positive claim, one that is not being made. The study resulted in the absence of a claim -- that they can't prove it harms sales.

The market force of piracy on revenue is pretty undeniable on industries that have turned to all-you-can-eat streaming because "at least it's not piracy," but that is incredibly difficult if not impossible to quantify in any kind of 1:1 scientific cause/effect way because of the very nature of "opportunity costs."

You sound like you really want to justify piracy but there isn't a justification for it. There is no fundamental right that anyone has to just take whatever copyrighted work they want and not compensate anyone for it.
 

Dascu

Member
Nov 24, 2006
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EU sometimes good things, sometimes very bad things..October 10th there going to vote for a new copyright law and if this law goes into effect it will censor the whole web through a filter it is terrible, it will censor really anything you want to link, like news snippets,youtube,meme's everything.

And seeing the study that nothing is wrong there doing this for corporations not people.
Vote is delayed to November. I'm pushing to get rid of this provision altogether.

And note: tons of businesses are opposed.
 

Dr.Phibes

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Mar 4, 2017
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People being more likely to buy music they've listened to, even if it was pirated, has been a pretty consistent finding in studies like these. It's not much of a stretch to extend that to games.

Movies have a service, convenience, and pricing mismatch right now, as well as dealing with time sensitivity. Hundreds of thousands of people eagerly signing up for moviepass is an example. There haven't been many attempts to fix this, historically speaking. Other industries have had their Steam or Spotify equivalent but not movies, so piracy persists.
I was referring to the "reason why it hasn't been published yet" bit.
 
Oct 18, 2008
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The fact that piracy is illegal is possibly part of the reason that piracy isn't a major problem. If it was legal, it would be a completely different beast if only because it would introduce a different userbase that would dwarf the current pirates.
 

TatteredHat

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Jun 3, 2013
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Vote is delayed to November. I'm pushing to get rid of this provision altogether.

And note: tons of businesses are opposed.
Are you a member of the EP? Parts of that bill seem great but Art. 11 and 13 are some real shit.
 

curls

Wake up Sheeple, your boring insistence that Obama is not a lizardman from Atlantis is wearing on my patience 💤
Aug 17, 2007
1,782
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It was always just an excuse to censor the net. 🙄
 

Ryujin

Gold Member
Dec 28, 2006
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This is the first time I've heard of this proposed internet filter from the EU. Normally the EU is one of the strongest supporters of human rights and consumer protections so I'm very disappointed that they would try to pull off some bullshit like this.

Granted it seems that the days of a "free" internet are numbered as freedoms are eroded slowly but surely to try to control the flow of information. I know that all politicians are corrupt and mainly in it for the money/bribes/power/kickbacks but I always thought the EU at least tried to also look out for the people to a small degree between all the bribes and fuckery.

It will be a sad day if this actually passes...

It was always just an excuse to censor the net. ��
Exactly, very depressing.
 

Mulgrok

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Aug 24, 2013
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The only shows I watched bootleg versions of were Black Lagoon, Cowboy Bebop, One Punch Man, but liked them so much I ended up buying special edition blu-ray of them.
 

opoth

Banned
Mar 6, 2012
1,433
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The fact that piracy is illegal is possibly part of the reason that piracy isn't a major problem. If it was legal, it would be a completely different beast if only because it would introduce a different userbase that would dwarf the current pirates.
I don't know anyone who has NOT pirated due to moral qualms or whatever, it's more that buying movies doesn't seem like a good value in most cases and they're not seen as worth tracking down through illegitimate means most of the time either.

Pushing age 40 now so most of my contemporary friends and family just buy the things they like, but it's rarely movies, and I feel that's down to the all you can eat options out there available for TV and music but not really movies.

Anecdotally, I'd say most people I know might go to the theater a few times a year and maybe see a few other current films along the way when they have limited runs on Netfix/Amazon/Hulu.

I think there's very little desire these days to go out of the way to pirate or even buy a film that you know you're only going to watch once or twice. Building a media library has been reduced to a niche hobby compared to the DVD heyday due to streaming services making people rethink both their spending habits and how they dedicate physical space to media that they may not watch very often.

Ultimately this shift has benefited the concepts of binge watching TV programs and Spotify has made music very easy - there's a big gap there for movies that no one is filling, and as I said, at least in my circle, movies aren't really pirated, they're just not a priority due to lack of a consistent convenient option and other similar but more convenient (and also legal) entertainment timesinks.

Whos going to bother stealing a 2 hour movie when there's nearly infinite amounts of non-movie entertainment at the press of a button?
 

Nilaul

Member
Sep 8, 2011
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It did seem to harm new movie sales, but more likely it shows that we should do further research
Does it though? There's no proof that the person who downloaded the movie, would have even gone to the cinema or bought the movie otherwise.
 

True Savior

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Sep 13, 2014
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Piracy is how most media is consumed worldwide. The costs of physical media are absurd and the necessity of paying for tv+ several streaming options to watch anything is completely inaccessible to most people and so that distance between cost and content is rarely covered through subscriptions.

It's a clear case of a market completely unadjusted to the majority of the world population, which ends up being subsidized by a bunch of rich countries who can actually afford those solutions.

Piracy is simply the consequence of a majority being left out. Without it they would''t even watch it. And that's a big issue cause without it, some media would lack the awareness it gets.
 

Occam

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Oct 15, 2013
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Already posted in gaming.
Correct title would be: Study finds no evidence that piracy affects sales.

Yet another reason to stop wasting resources on DRM (which after all only harms paying customers).
 

Joni

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Aug 11, 2007
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Does it though? There's no proof that the person who downloaded the movie, would have even gone to the cinema or bought the movie otherwise.
The report says that it is the only area where they did find a significant impact.

The results show a displacement rate of 40 percent which means that for every ten recent top films watched illegally, four fewer films are consumed legally.
 
Aug 13, 2015
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The report says that it is the only area where they did find a significant impact.
It is impossible to measure a number of illegal movie downloads, let alone watches. There are so many private, streamed and specialized releases that nobody has resources to track it all.
 

Menchi

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Jan 14, 2013
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If piracy were essentially ignored and there was not the slightest hint of repercussions for doing so, I very much doubt it would continue to "not be an issue" as why on earth would anyone pay for something they can "legally" get for free outside of moral qualms for the poor massive corporations.

Piracy, is in itself, not an issue because it is made to be a phantom issue. The moment it isn't legally problematic, there'd be an uptick in piracy, and thus it becomes more of an issue.

That said, the bottom line of a few mega corps isn't really on my list of concerns so whatever people do want to do is up to them
 

Darkwater

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Aug 9, 2009
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Study: "That does not necessarily mean that piracy has no effect but only that the statistical analysis does not prove with sufficient reliability that there is an effect."

Thread title: "study that found that piracy doesn't harm sales"

Could we please not spindoctor facts in thread titles? Thanks.
Gizmodo wrote that headline. For shame all the same, maybe even more so.
 
May 21, 2013
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Pro DRM people will never accept this as a possibility.

Copyright culture needs a serious reworking.
I can certainly believe this one n the case of tv shows, especially ones where the asking price is high or the show is difficult to get. If the show is good, people will probably go the extra mile to seek out the rest.
 

HotHamBoy

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Jul 21, 2015
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It *has* to effect sales of some things but only in relative percentages.

Big AAA game? Probably not.

Little indie? Significant enough of a percentage, I think.

On one hand, I know that there are things people pirate that they wouldn't have bought any way because they don't have the money. In that sense piracy should have no real impact. But let's say you can only afford like 5 CDs a year. You may not be buying the other 30 albums you pirate either way, but if you're already pirating you probably aren't buying those 5 CDs, either.
 

Gussemke

Neo Member
Dec 11, 2014
33
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It doesnt harm any sales.

If i take myself, i have a subscription for my local cinema, 27 euros a month for unlimited acces, imax and special screenings. I go check out the movie in the cinema, if it becomes available on the net i'll download the movie, check it in my home atmosphere, if the movie holds up my expectations i will buy the movie day one. No matter the costs.. same for tv shows... I like them, ill buy them.


If they made a streamingservice with all the services combined. People dont need to seek illegal ways. Then everything will be under the same roof.. charge them 40 bucks for the whole lot. Sure beats the re runs and unattractive tv enviroment these days.
 

HotHamBoy

Member
Jul 21, 2015
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It doesnt harm any sales.

If i take myself, i have a subscription for my local cinema, 27 euros a month for unlimited acces, imax and special screenings. I go check out the movie in the cinema, if it becomes available on the net i'll download the movie, check it in my home atmosphere, if the movie holds up my expectations i will buy the movie day one. No matter the costs.. same for tv shows... I like them, ill buy them.


If they made a streamingservice with all the services combined. People dont need to seek illegal ways. Then everything will be under the same roof.. charge them 40 bucks for the whole lot. Sure beats the re runs and unattractive tv enviroment these days.
That's you.

I think there are people who support what they like by paying for it, even if it's after they have pirated it. Maybe some people buy a vinyl or a t-shirt at a show. Or they get a legit copy of an album on itunes. But other people may choose to put that money towards something else they want to support because piracy makes that possible for them. Maybe some people pirate everything released on major record labels so they can spend their money on bandcamp supporting self-published music.
 

RipperGrim

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Oct 15, 2014
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It's literally impossible to prove, you would have to release the exact same thing twice. one with piracy and one without, can't be done.

We don't have a baseline for what the sales are supposed to because there are so many factors that go into it. Just because something is still successful doesn't mean piracy didn't affect it and vice versa if something fails doesn't mean it's because of piracy.
 

Seesaw15

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Jun 5, 2014
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From the conclusion
In general, the results do not show robust statistical evidence of displacement of sales by online copyright infringements. That does not necessarily mean that piracy has no effect but only that the statistical analysis
does not prove with sufficient reliability that there is an effect.
 

Starwolf_UK

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Dec 5, 2008
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Is not publishing a study the same as suppressing it? We don't know their reasoning, but calling it suppression makes it sound more nefarious than it maybe is.
It sounds like a bit of a null result to be frank and that can be a problem research has in general is null results tend not to be published unless it contracts something prior. But lack of publishing null results means it is unknown is something has been tried before.

But the whole suppressing angle made me check if the article source wasn't the Daily Express or some other anti-EU establishment.
 

Airola

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Jun 25, 2015
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Does it though? There's no proof that the person who downloaded the movie, would have even gone to the cinema or bought the movie otherwise.
How can that be proved though?

You can basically only look at this from the perspective that someone who downloads a movie might still buy the movie, if the person ends up buying the movie.

But if the person don't end up buying the movie, the only thing that can be said is that this person didn't buy the movie but saw the movie.

I think discussing whether it harms sales is a moot point because you really can't prove it either way. You can't say if this many people downloaded the movie then the owner lost this much money and you can't say they would've never even bought the movie anyway, because no-one sees the future.

The only thing that should be decided is whether or not downloading without permission is wrong and comparable to stealing. And I think it should and could be done without even looking at the money the owners could lose by it. It should be all about whether the creators and producers of the movie should have the right to decide where, when and how their product is distributed, and whether violating that right should be wrong. The money part isn't important. The important part is about violating the rights of others.
 

Airola

Member
Jun 25, 2015
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If i take myself, i have a subscription for my local cinema, 27 euros a month for unlimited acces, imax and special screenings. I go check out the movie in the cinema, if it becomes available on the net i'll download the movie, check it in my home atmosphere, if the movie holds up my expectations i will buy the movie day one. No matter the costs.. same for tv shows... I like them, ill buy them.
But where's the threshold in that?
Where the line goes that makes the movie good or bad for you? Would you buy a movie that was ok but not that good? Would you buy a movie that was quite good but not something you might want to watch again? Would you buy a movie that was good but not great?

If a certain movie isn't shown in your local cinema, would you still check it out online?
 

Gussemke

Neo Member
Dec 11, 2014
33
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0
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But where's the threshold in that?
Where the line goes that makes the movie good or bad for you? Would you buy a movie that was ok but not that good? Would you buy a movie that was quite good but not something you might want to watch again? Would you buy a movie that was good but not great?

If a certain movie isn't shown in your local cinema, would you still check it out online?
Almost all the movies i want to see are available in the cinema, the ones that i miss. I take the gamble and buy them anyway. If i dont like the movie that much at home. But still like it in a certain way ill buy it when it is heavily discounted.
 

BriareosGAF

Member
May 13, 2009
2,546
0
0
You sound like you really want to justify piracy but there isn't a justification for it. There is no fundamental right that anyone has to just take whatever copyrighted work they want and not compensate anyone for it.
I don't necessarily disagree with you, but talking about "fundamental" rights with respect to intellectual property is a pretty slippery slope. All intellectual property rights exist as grants by the State enforced by threat of violence, physical or economic. We grant these rights to the State because we believe they are long-term beneficial to our economic prosperity, not because there's some irreducible philosophical foundation to it. Thus it's useful to discuss the matter in terms of its practical effects on productivity via consumption and remuneration.