In 2014, the European Commission paid €360,000 ($428,000) for a study into the impact of copyright piracy on legal sales of digital material. In May 2015, the commission buried the report, but now, Europe’s only Pirate MEP has exposed the cover-up.
“In general, the results do not show robust statistical evidence of displacement of sales by online copyright infringements. That does not necessarily mean that piracy has no effect but only that the statistical analysis does not prove with sufficient reliability that there is an effect,” the report reads.
“An exception is the displacement of recent top films. The results show a displacement rate of 40 per cent which means that for every 10 recent top films watched illegally, four fewer films are consumed legally.”
In other words, with the exception of major Hollywood blockbusters, the study found no evidence to support the theory that online piracy negatively impacts sales of copyrighted music, books, video games, and movies. In fact, illegal downloads and streams can actually boost legal sales of games, the report found.
Julia Reda, the minister of the European Parliament for the German Pirate Party, submitted several freedom of information requests to the European Commission before it finally responded on July 27, 2017.
Reda wrote in a blog post on her website: “I would like to invite the Commission to become a provider of more solid and timely evidence to the copyright debate. Such data that is valuable both financially and in terms of its applicability should be available to everyone when it is financed by the European Union – it should not be gathering dust on a shelf until someone actively requests it.”
Reda also highlights that the European Commission previously asked Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to introduce filters for user-uploaded content, to essentially spy on customers in an attempt to prevent piracy of digital copyrighted content.
This was ostensibly to combat the so-called ‘value gap’ created by music-streaming services such as YouTube that disrupted the market by allowing users to upload a mixture of licensed and unlicensed content with little oversight.
“At first I was willing to give the Commission the benefit of the doubt that the study had simply fallen through the cracks, since the responsible department underwent significant restructuring in 2014, after the study was commissioned,” Reda told The Next Web in an interview.
“One cannot avoid the suspicion that the Commission intentionally suppressed the publication of publicly-funded research because the facts discovered were inconvenient to their political agenda.”
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