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File-sharers buy more music than non-file-sharers, says study

Graphic, file-sharing
The American Assembly

It seems counterintuitive, but a new study says that file-sharing music lovers in the U.S. also buy more music than their non-file-sharing counterparts.

The finding comes in a report, "Copy Culture in the USA and Germany," from The American Assembly, which describes itself as a non-partisan public affairs forum, affiliated with Columbia University.

In the U.S., the average music file collection is 1,444 songs, the group says. File-sharers in the U.S. have "roughly 37 percent" larger music collections than non-file-sharers, and "predictably, most of the difference comes from higher levels of ‘downloading for free’ and ‘copying from friends/family.’ "

But, file sharers also have "significantly higher legal purchases of digital music than their non-P2P using peers — around 30 percent higher among US P2P users," wrote Joe Karaganis of the Social Science Research Council, which worked on the report.

"Our data is quite clear on this point and lines up with numerous other studies: The biggest music pirates are also the biggest spenders on recorded music."

The Recording Industry Association of America declined to comment on the study, but did refer NBC News to The NPD Group, which has done its own research on the issue.

"We hear this argument all the time and it makes no sense," Russ Crupnick, NPD's senior vice president, industry analysis, said in a phone interview. 

"Peer-to-peer users tend to be younger and more Internet-savvy, so the likelihood that would be buying digital files makes perfect sense. But you can't compare that to the entire population," he said. "Sixty percent of the population is over the age of 35, so you're kind of comparing peer-to-peer users with Baby Boomers who buy much, much less music."

In a report last March, NPD said 13 percent of Internet users downloaded music from a P2P (peer-to-peer) site, which is down from a high of 19 percent in 2006, largely because of "industry efforts to combat illegal file sharing, and increased options for listening and downloading legally," Crupnick said at that time.

Aram Sinnreich, an assistant professor at Rutgers University’s School of Communication and Information, and author of the book,"The Piracy Crusade: How the Music Industry’s War on Sharing Destroys Markets and Erodes Civil Liberties," has yet another take on the issue.

He told NBC News via email he believes that P2P music sharing tends to "spur individual and communal interest in music, which increases awareness and interest in making purchases — of recordings, merchandise, event tickets and so forth."

— Via Gizmodo

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