Anti-Piracy Group Claims Recent Canadian P2P Study Doesn’t Represent Australia

Points to the results of a telephone survey conducted last year where 57% of file-sharers said they didn’t buy downloaded material.

This past Monday I discussed a study surprisingly commissioned by Industry Canada, a ministry of the Canadian federal government, that is the most extensive surveying to date of the Canadian population on music purchasing habits. Much to the chagrin of record labels and music execs everywhere, the study concluded that there is a POSITIVE correlation between file-sharing and CD sales.

Conducted by Birgitte Andersen and Marion Frenz of the Department of Management at the University of London in England, the study concludes that illegal file-sharing does not cause a decrease in music sales as the music industry has insisted all along. In fact, it does just the opposite, in that it apparently tends to actually INCREASE music purchasing.

“Our review of existing econometric studies suggests that P2P file-sharing tends to decrease music purchasing,” says the study. “However, we find the opposite, namely that P2P file-sharing tends to increase rather than decrease music purchasing.”

Now it seems that the Australian music industry’s anti-piracy unit, Music Industry Piracy Investigations (MIPI), has chimed in to refute the conclusions of the survey using the most precise and accurate data collection methods known to man- the telephone survey.

Pointing to a telephone survey of some 1000 Australians aged 14 to 74, MIPI general manager Sabiene Heind insists the Canadian study’s results do not translate to Australia. Conducted by Quantum Market Research last year, the survey supposedly found that 57% of those who downloaded music using P2P or file sharing programs either “rarely or never went on to purchase the music legitimately.”

“It’s not rocket science to work out that if you get your music for free, why would you go out and buy it,” Ms Heindl said.

Apparently Heindl understands file-sharing about as much as she understands rocket science. It’s not as rare an occurrence as she might think for file-sharers to go out and actually buy a physical album they have already downloaded for free online. Why? It’s called supporting the artist for one, but also to make sure they have a high-quality version to listen to. Not every music file available online is encoded at 320kbps or in .FLAC format. The norm is usually 192kbps, and if you really dig the album it probably won’t cut it when you try to crank it up on your home theater system.

What’s also amazing is that Heindl doesn’t seem to realize that not everybody who downloaded the album for free online would have actually gone out and purchased it otherwise. Just because you downloaded Maroon 5’s latest and greatest doesn’t necessarily mean that you would’ve gotten into the car and driven to Wal-Mart to grab a copy. It’s simply ridiculous.

But, ridiculous may just be MIPI’s forte because it’s also been reported that it wants ISPs to voluntarily send infringement notices and disconnect users identified as having engaged in illegal downloading. MIPI wants the ISPs to play content police so that it can make a few more bucks. Forget about trying to figure out how to make record labels viable again, they’d rather sow the earth with salt.

What’s really important to note here is that music itself is as healthy as ever and always will be. What’s sick is MUSIC DISTRIBUTION. This is a very important distinction. Technology has just improved the way that people get and consume it.