File sharing expert Stan Liebowitz issued a rebuttal yesterday to a recent Canadian government study that indicated there was no discernable connection between file sharing and compact disc sales.

The study, commissioned by Industry Canada and released Friday, was conducted by British academics Birgitte Andersen and Marion Frenz. It concluded that, "In the aggregate, we are unable to discover any direct relationship between P2P file-sharing and CD purchases in Canada.

However, our analysis of the Canadian P2P file-sharing subpopulation suggests that there is a strong positive relationship between P2P file-sharing and CD purchasing. That is, among Canadians actually engaged in it, P2P file-sharing increases CD purchasing."

Liebowitz, who teaches economics in the Management School at the University of Texas at Dallas and has been active in the file sharing debate, said the report's conclusions make little sense.

"To believe the results of [the study] you must accept that sales have dropped by half in six years, due to some factor that no one can identify. Does this seem even remotely plausible?" Liebowitz responded in a written commentary on his website. "This would be such a steep decline in such a short period of time that it would seem impossible to not have a clearly identified cause. And [the report's] results rule out the possibility of other entertainment activities siphoning off record listeners."

He said by using the report's logic, sales of compact discs should have increased dramatically in Canada, while in fact sales fell in the period between 1999 and 2007.

"This result is so counterintuitive that I think it fails the laugh test," he said.

Liebowitz also questioned the validity of the survey used for the report, in which the average Canadian claimed to have purchased 8.3 albums in 2005, when in fact sales indicate that number is closer to 2.2.

The Industry Canada report was released as the Canadian federal government has announced it is preparing to make alterations to the country's Copyright Act. Critics have argued Canadian law pertaining to copyright is unable to deal with the realities of the Internet, while others have stated changing the law is unnecessary.

The Canadian music industry has blamed free downloading and lax copyright legislation for a massive sales decline starting in 1999. In 2006, the estimated revenue total for the year was $719 million, a 45% decrease from 1999 when music sales totaled $1.3 billion in Canada.

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