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Does file sharing reduce music CD sales?: A case of Japan

Tatsuo Tanaka

No 05-08, IIR Working Paper from Institute of Innovation Research, Hitotsubashi University

Abstract: File sharing systems such as Napster and KaZaA are accused by the recording industry of causing declines in sales of music CDs, and recently users of these systems are under lawsuit attack. However, there is not sufficient evidence that file sharing systems are responsible for the recent decline in music CD sales. Two previous studies examined micro data of sales and downloads and found mixed results regarding the connection between file sharing and CD sales (Blackburn, 2004; Oberholzer and Strumpf, 2004). The current essay estimated the effect of file sharing systems on music CD sales using micro data from Japan in 2004. Japan's file sharing system ("Winny") is almost completely decentralized and highly anonymous compared with ones addressed in the two previous studies, thus Japanese users can download music files with less concern about lawsuits. The goal of this research is to examine the effect of file sharing on music CD sales in such an illegal-copy-friendly file sharing system. Based on micro data of CD sales and numbers of downloads, we found that there was very little evidence that file sharing reduces music CD sales in Japan. We controlled simultaneous bias between sales and downloads by instrumental variables, but did not find correlation between CD sales and numbers of downloads. Although there were large differences in the numbers of downloads among CD titles, these differences did not affect CD sales. We also carried out a user survey on file sharing and CD purchases with consideration to the potential bias of respondents trying to understate their illegal copying activity. This survey also showed that file sharing had very limited influence on CD purchases.

Keywords: Copyright; File sharing; P-to-P; Intellectual Property Rights; Music; Entertainment Industry (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O34 L82 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2004-12-13
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