Has file-sharing software damaged CD music sales?Yesterday's Guardian newspaper included a piece by Oliver Burkeman on the fallout from last Monday's decision of the US Supreme Court that Grokster and StreamCast can be held liable for the illegal exchange of copyright material over their networks (Should I buy this? Real lives, Guardian 29th June 2005)
It included the question "Is there any evidence that file-sharing has actually damaged CD sales?". The studies that he cites suggest not, but they are far from authoritative. A recent paper by the respected American economist Stan J Liebowitz provides a careful review of the various studies of this question, as well as his own empirical analysis. He concludes that "..file-sharing hurts copyright owners and that it is responsible for most, if not all, of the recent decline in sales".
(Liebowitz's paper can be accessed from his web page at http://www.utdallas.edu/~liebowit/intprop/main.htm).
This doesn't mean of course that I approve of the heavy legal
action taken by music and media companies against individual users of the file-sharing software.