Summary:

How much of a problem is illegal, online video downloading in developed countries? Perhaps not as much as most people think, according to a…

How much of a problem is illegal, online video downloading in developed countries? Perhaps not as much as most people think, according to a new study from research firm Futuresource Consulting. It found that just eight percent of consumers in the UK, France, Germany and the USA admit to downloading video illegally. French respondents are either more enthusiastic about illegal video or more honest: a quarter admitted their guilt to researchers.

Meanwhile, another study recently released argues that piracy doesn’t hurt the creation of new artistic works. The entertainment industry’s main defence of its heavy-handed, lawsuit-driven copyright protection policies is that, without legal sales of content, quality will disappear — but an in-progress Harvard Business School paper (pdf) by Felix Oberholzer-Gee and Koleman Strumpf (via the Reg) seeks to dispel that.

The authors write: “Even if a weakened copyright regime turned out to reduce industry profitability, it is not obvious whether a decline in profits would undermine the incentives to create, market and distribute artistic works.” They argue that as recorded music moves towards a free model, concert prices will rise to offset any revenue loss.

But these two studies have little in common with the picture analysts and industry figures have painted in the past year: The IFPI reckons 95 percent of all music downloads are illegal; Coda Research found in April that UK illegal VOD watching was worth £1.3 billion a year in lost revenue to the entertainment industry, and UK video sales, as in physical DVDs, were down three percent in 2008 with 2009 expected to be down five percent.

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