A new study published by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre has found that illegal downloading doesn’t hurt the music industry. After examining the browsing habits of more than 16,000 Europeans, the research showed that there is actually a positive link between online piracy and visits to legal music stores — so rather than negatively impacting digital revenues, researchers found that music sales can actually benefit from piracy.
“It seems that the majority of the music that is consumed illegally by the individuals in our sample would not have been purchased if illegal downloading websites were not available to them,” researchers said.
The study also found that music streaming websites such as Pandora (P) and Spotify don’t cannibalize music purchases.
“The complementary effect of online streaming is found to be somewhat larger, suggesting a stimulating effect of this activity on the sales of digital music,” researchers noted, adding that the music industry should not see piracy as a growing concern.
The European Commission’s study contradicts an earlier report backed by the MPAA that claimed the closure of sites like Megauplaod resulted in increased movie sales.
“Taken at face value, our findings indicate that digital music piracy does not displace legal music purchases in digital format,” the paper concluded. “This means that although there is trespassing of private property rights, there is unlikely to be much harm done on digital music revenues.”