We don't condone piracy for one second simply out of respect for the creators of games, music, you name it, but apparently piracy may not actually be as harmful as certain industries claim. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) claims that piracy accounts for a large loss of sales annually but a new study shows that P2P piracy may only account for as little as .07% of lost sales. According to the architects of this experiment, the reason that the RIAA blames so much loss on piracy is because of the way it tracks it's sales in the first place. I know, it sounds farfetched, a huge industry based on sales manipulating data to prevent a source of distribution it has no control over, but maybe, just maybe, there really is more to this unthinkable conspiracy then meets the eye.
In order to conduct the study, researchers tackled the problem in an unusual way. Rather than just following US markets, they followed German downloads and uploads from students on holiday. Germany is the #2 provider of illegal music shares, accounting for 1 in 6 downloads - when German student upload traffic increased, US sales should have decreased.
The findings? P2P network activity has a whopping 0.7% negative effect on sales - well less than the margin of error for the study. Even taking the most negative figures (counting the margin of error in favour of the RIAA's claims), the study can only account for 6 million out of the 80 million units of lost sales the RIAA blames on piracy in 2002. This means 74 million units just plain didn't sell, and that had nothing to do with piracy - even if everything that could have gone wrong with the study did.