The European Commission seems to have suppressed a report which concluded that copyright infringement had no negative impact on legal sales. In other words, the study found the claims of anti-piracy advocates like the RIAA and MPAA are false.
The report (PDF), published by Ecorys, a Dutch company commissioned by the EC to conduct this study, was never published, says Julia Reda, a European parliament member who is representing the German Pirate Party.
In her blog, she points out that the report was given a €360,000 contract in 2014 to conduct the study. The report was published in 2015 and allegedly suppressed by the EC. Gizmodo and Reda are both of the opinion that the report was suppressed because it concluded that piracy had little to no impact on legal sales.
The 300-page report concludes that “In general, the results do not show robust statistical evidence of displacement of sales by online copyright infringements. That does not necessarily mean that piracy has no effect but only that the statistical analysis does not prove with sufficient reliability that there is an effect.”
The study does note that recently released blockbusters are an exception to this rule, but point out that the estimated loss in revenue in this particular case is only five percent.
On examining customers’ willingness to pay, Ecorys found that movies and TV-series were priced about 80 percent higher than pirates were willing to pay. The same did not apply to music, books and games. Based on this data, the study concludes that a price drop in music, books and games would have no impact on sales. In fact, the report suggests that illegal downloads might actually boost the sale of games.
These conclusions were drawn based on the responses to a detailed questionnaire circulated by Ecorys and data on piracy rates in various EU countries.
In her blog, Reda questions the EC’s decision to suppress the report. It took her three attempts via an access to documents request under the EU’s Freedom of Information Law to get access to the report.
“Such data that is valuable both financially and in terms of its applicability should be available to everyone when it is financed by the European Union – it should not be gathering dust on a shelf until someone actively requests it”, says Reda.