New Report Counters RIAA Attacks

Dennis Faas's picture

It wasn't so long ago that we heard the story of single mother Jammie Thomas, forced by the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) to pay over $200,000 in fines for making a handful of songs available for illegal sharing on former peer-to-peer protocol Kazaa. Now, a new report suggests that file sharers like Thomas probably shouldn't be made out to be criminals. In fact, they're the record industry's best customers.

The RIAA may just want to have a chat with British researchers working in the Great White North. According to a report filed by Industry Canada, for every track a downloader rips off peer-to-peer software, that same person will on average purchase 0.44 more compact discs per year than those who did not use a P2P network. (Source:

It means those who love music generally love it illegally and legally.

The report was compiled by University of London researchers Birgitte Andersen and Marion Frenz for Industry Canada.

In the report, the researchers state, "There is a strong positive relationship between P2P file-sharing and CD purchasing...That is, among Canadians actually engaged in it, P2P file-sharing increases CD purchasing." It's a much different conclusion than that drawn by the organization most music fans consider nothing less than a bully, the RIAA. (Source:

In a sense, it's a bit like blaming an unsolved murder on anyone acting suspicious. Circumstantial evidence just isn't enough. As stated in the report, "The analysis of the entire Canadian population does not uncover either a positive or negative relationship between the number of files downloaded from P2P networks and CDs purchased."

The Canadian Recording Industry Association, essentially the Canuck equivalent of the RIAA, believe music pirates can be blamed for the drop. They argue that physical CD sales were down about twenty per cent in Canada between 2006 and 2007, and this can be directly related to music downloading.

Andersen and Frenz's response is fairly simple: you can't prove it. According to their report, the decline in CD sales is simply too hard to pinpoint, and "is linked to a lifestyle choice of certain groups of society."

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