A recent study found that contrary to arguments repeatedly posed by major record labels — and perhaps contrary to logic as well — BitTorrent piracy has a direct correlation to increased album sales. Between May 2010 and January 2011, North Carolina State University assistant professor Robert Hammond tracked BitTorrent download statistics for new albums ahead of their releases. He then compared his data to music sales figures and found what he believes to be a connection. “I isolate the causal effect of file sharing of an album on its sales by exploiting exogenous variation in how widely available the album was prior to its official release date,” Hammond wrote in his paper. “The findings suggest that file sharing of an album benefits its sales. I don’t find any evidence of a negative effect in any specification, using any instrument.” Of course, the case may simply be that popular music is popular music; whether consumers steal it or buy it, massive marketing budgets help ensure that people are exposed to labels’ premier acts as much as possible, thus promoting demand.

[Via TorrentFreak]