A while ago, I theorized that the entertainment industry’s estimates of lost sales due to file sharing were pretty much pulled out of thin air.
I commend this column in the Guardian to your attention. The writer believes pretty much the same thing, but he’s done some research.
. . . Ben Goldacre eviscerated the claims in Saturday’s paper, in his Bad Science column, pointing out that if every illicit download were a lost sale, then we would be missing about a 10th of GDP. Though on checking he found it was only a 100th of our GDP. (Oopsy, someone missed a decimal point.) Even so, it’s the sort of amount that you don’t overlook. And one that doesn’t stand to reason. It’s too big.
Why does the music industry keep putting these numbers forward? Because it looks at its sales and sees them falling. And it looks at filesharing and sees it growing. Cause and effect, right? Not necessarily. I decided to start from the premise that downloads are not lost sales; that instead there’s only a limited amount of short-term spending cash available to people (which remains true, generally, despite credit bubbles). That instead of buying music, they choose to spend it on other things.
Here’s the link to the Ben Goldacre column referred to above.