Measuring the impact of illegal downloading on the music industry is a nearly impossible task that only seems to make the lawyers rich, but a new UK based study has concluded that illegal downloader's not only don't hurt music sales, they help. According to the survey which looked at the buying habits of about 1,000 16 to 50 year-old computer users, those that regularly downloaded music illegally also spent nearly 43% more per year through official channels than their legitimate counterparts. According to the UK Secretary of State for Business Peter Mandelson, this proves the shortsightedness of the new "Digital Economy Bill" set to become law next April which aims to boot any user off the Internet accused of downloading copyrighted material three times or more.
Peter Bradwell, from the think-tank Demos who commissioned the Ipsos Mori study agrees and claims, "The latest approach from the Government will not help prop up an ailing music industry. Politicians and music companies need to recognize that the nature of music consumption has changed, and consumers are demanding lower prices and easier access." The UK music industry however remains unconvinced, and insisted that the figures cited in the study show a skewed picture. It turns out in fact, that nearly 61% of all illegal downloader's surveyed claim they would stop downloading illegitimate tracks if they were threatened with losing internet service for a month.
So will illegal downloader’s spend even more money on digital tracks if they get cut off from Bit Torrent's? Or does it help to create fans who would have otherwise spent less on music using traditional discovery methods. It’s an interesting debate, where do you fall on the issue?