Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"An illegal download is not a lost sale"

It's been obvious since the days of Napster, but at last a judge has said in judgement a self-evident truth - that just because someone downloads a song, it doesn't follow that they would have bought it otherwise:

[Judge James P.] Jones wrote in his opinion that equating each download with a lost sale is a faulty assumption. "Those who download movies and music for free would not necessarily purchase those movies and music at the full purchase price," Jones wrote. "[A]lthough it is true that someone who copies a digital version of a sound recording has little incentive to purchase the recording through legitimate means, it does not necessarily follow that the downloader would have made a legitimate purchase if the recording had not been available for free."

Soon, the music industry will start to get behavioural reports from people who are hooked in to 'all-you-can-eat' packages which will almost certainly back this point of view: if people who download via Comes With Music are acquiring more tracks legally than they had been previously, for example, the case will be clear that being offered a free track might make you collect something you wouldn't have ever paid for.