French anti-P2P law reduces piracy, but does nothing for music sales

There are plenty of horror stories about how piracy is costing musicians money. They're being robbed of the royalties for their music, and the pirates responsible aren't paying a dime. Not many people have thought to question this argument, since it seems very plausible at a glance. You would definitely be forgiven for trusting this to be accurate.

Except maybe it isn't. Ars Technica reports that it doesn't seem to be the case in France. The French anti-piracy laws are among the strictest in the world. If you're caught three times, you're finished with internet in the country. No provider will take you on as a customer. Private companies are paid to scan file sharing networks for copyright-infringing files, and then also to warn the pirates that they are aware of their practices. This law is enforced by an agency called Hadopi, and initial studies suggested piracy had increased since the French authorities cracked down on it, which would have been a bitter irony.

Now, it seems piracy levels have fallen considerably. Music sales are still declining though, so maybe these pirates weren't downloading for the convenience at all. Hadopi only monitors peer-to-peer networks, so it is possible the French pirates have simply set sail for torrents and other illicit methods of acquiring their materials. Hadopi's most recent study had the following to report:

"no indication that there has been a massive transfer in forms of use to streaming technologies or direct downloads."

Music and video agencies did not see any real increase in profit compared to 2010 during 2011. Instead, they saw a drop in sales of 3.9% within the recorded music market. The video market did not drop as far, at a decrease of 'only' 2.9%. Revenue for streaming and subscription services increased by 73%, so it seems people are beginning to rely on services like Deezer and Spotify to get their musical fix.

Video-on-demand sales have increased by 50%. This all goes to show a gradual transition from physical media among the French people, more than anything else. Despite all the claims piracy is causing chaos to the world of entertainment, it might not be doing nearly as much as has been said. Physical sales would likely have decreased regardless of piracy levels due to the increased convenience of clicking a video in Netflix, or a track in Spotify, over going and buying elsewhere.

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13 Comments

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I never believed that ridiculous argument. I though it was used as a convenient excuse by the recording industry who had just gotten complacent and corrupt. They just made the file sharing the scapegoat for their poor sales, that actually are because of

A) Producing bad music
B) Overpricing that crappy music
C) Using an outdated business model and even forgot that the customer is always right

And they haven't fixed any of those reasons yet. The music is even worse than ten years ago. Music is still too expensive and it's all sold (force fed) stupidly and very arrogantly.

Camellion said,
I never believed that ridiculous argument. I though it was used as a convenient excuse by the recording industry who had just gotten complacent and corrupt. They just made the file sharing the scapegoat for their poor sales, that actually are because of

A) Producing bad music
B) Overpricing that crappy music
C) Using an outdated business model and even forgot that the customer is always right

And they haven't fixed any of those reasons yet. The music is even worse than ten years ago. Music is still too expensive and it's all sold (force fed) stupidly and very arrogantly.


QFT +1

Piracy is free advertising, if people don't like then they won't buy. Thanks to computers which has allowed people to create studio's in their home for a few hundred bucks. Piracy has benefited music massively, the underground is booming.

I listen to music for the music, not to keep a giant outdated record label happy. So most of the music I buy and listen to is from the underground and many of their songs are out there for free.

Last time I bought a CD was 2007, that was also the final song I bought from someone backed by a major music label.

I buy plenty of games/music however sometimes I will try a game/album to see if it is any good to purchase it if game demos/album streams aren't available. And to be honest piracy and the internet has increased my purchasing patterns as it is easier to find games (especially Indie ones).

If someone was going to pirate they will find their way. I remember as a kid my cousin used to copy her CDs for plenty of people to a good old cassette and that apparently was the doomsday killer too

Of course it doesn't because piracy does not equal lost sales 1:1 and many other services like YouTube and Spotify are diluting direct purchases of music in favour of free streaming.

People are adapting.

SubZenit said,
Glad to hear that, they still don't get it - If I really like a song, I will buy it, if not, I won't.

and if I've never heard of it. I certainly won't. They pulled this for Radio then MTV. Then the network came along and it just had to be stopped.. and there goes the sales. down the tubes. Poets of the Fall. , discovered that thru the old allofmp3. I import their albums when I can. not cheap.

SubZenit said,
Glad to hear that, they still don't get it - If I really like a song, I will buy it, if not, I won't.

So it is okay to "consume" a song without paying so you can see if you like it so you can pay for it? Besides if you have listened to it without paying, there is a even less chance of buying it at all because you already have heard it before or already have the song in your procession and the song creator don't get anything out of that. ??

ozgeek said,

So it is okay to "consume" a song without paying so you can see if you like it so you can pay for it?

Is it not obvious? That´s the reason most physical good, in most countries, have a seven days return policy. Big players insist that a download and a physical copy are the same but while I can see some stores picking some CD or DVD back, I´m yet to see someone being refunded for the download he/she was not happy with.