A new Canadian government study concludes there is no discernable connection - either positive or negative - between free sharing of music files on the Internet and the purchasing of compact discs. The study was conducted by University of London department of management professors Birgitte Andersen and Marion Frenz and commissioned by Industry Canada, a federal government ministry.

"We are unable to find direct evidence that P2P file-sharing either increases or decreases CD purchases in Canada," the report stated. "That is, in our analysis of the whole Canadian population we are unable to find any relationship between the number of P2P music tracks that were downloaded and the number CD purchases."

However, the report also dismissed some long held connections between P2P sharing and purchasing of music. For example, the report said it could not find a link between people who contended they were only using P2P to preview music and actual CD purchases

While many pundits have blamed alternative entertainment sources - from DVDs, to movies to cell phones - as limiting the amount consumers spend on music, the report found exactly the opposite. Those that spend more money on entertainment also typically buy a greater number of music CDs, the study found.

The study, which appears to have been submitted in May, queried 2,100 Canadians 15 years and older, of which 1,005 respondents who declared that they were peer to-peer downloaders and 1,095 that declared not to have engaged in the activity.

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. Based on a study conducted for the Canadian Recording Industry Association by pollster Pollara, it was estimated that 1.3 billion music tracks are downloaded freely in Canada each year, opposed to 20 million legal downloads in 2006.