Is there a silver lining to online music piracy? A new research paper (that focuses on some fairly old data) delves into the relationship between file sharing and music sales, coming up with mixed results and little closure for the contentious issue.
In a study called "Purchase, Pirate, Publicize: The Effect of File Sharing on Album Sales," Jonathan Lee of Queen’s University in Ontario monitored both the sales and pirated downloads of 2,251 albums... from 2008. (For some perspective, that's the same year that Spotify arrived in the U.S.) Legitimate album sales data came from Nielsen SoundScan, while file sharing stats were pulled from a BitTorrent tracker. "From the results, I conclude that file sharing activity has a statistically significant but economically modest negative effect on legitimate music sales," he writes.