Economy Profits From File-Sharing, Report Concludes

Commissioned by the Dutch government, a recently published report concludes that file-sharing has a positive effect on the economy, both on the long and short term. A massive 30% of the Dutch population uses file-sharing software to download music, games, movies and other forms of entertainment, which is now considered to be a 'good thing'.

The 142 page report looks into the economic and cultural consequences of file-sharing on the music, movie and games industries. The conclusions and recommendations seem to echo some of our previous writing. While most file-sharers download mainly copyrighted files without paying for them, the overall effect on the welfare of the economy is positive.

The report, which was commissioned by the government, estimates the positive effect on the Dutch economy to be around 100 million euros a year. While it is recognized that the entertainment industry suffers some losses, these don’t outweigh the positive effects of file-sharing.

File-sharing gives people access to a wide range of cultural goods and is often used to sample content that is bought later, the report concluded. Most file-sharers would have never bought the content they downloaded, but having access to such a large media library increases the welfare of Dutch citizens, the researchers note.

The researchers further found that people who download music and movies are not buying less than people who don’t. In fact, downloaders are reported to be more frequent visitors of concerts, and game downloaders actually bought more games than those who didn’t. In the music industry, lesser-know bands profit most from file-sharing, the researchers report.

The report goes on to discuss the legal situation in the Netherlands. Downloading music and movies for personal use is currently legal under Dutch law while uploading is illegal, although most file-sharers are uncertain as to what is allowed and what is not. Although anti-piracy outfits are lobbying for harsher copyright laws, this will have little effect.

The researchers think that stricter copyright laws will not have much of an effect on the income of the entertainment industry. Most reported losses can be attributed to things other than piracy, they say. One of the main reasons for the loss in sales for the music industry, is competition with other forms of entertainment.

BREIN, the anti-piracy voice of the Netherlands hasn’t commented on the conclusions of the report yet, but we’re looking forward to hearing from them.

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