Pirates or Explorers ?Analysis of Music Consumption in French Graduate Schools
This paper analyzes the impact of music file sharing on CD purchases. Traditionally, two arguments are opposed concerning the impact of music file sharing on CD sales. On the one hand, MP3 downloads only reduces sales of legitimate CDs (the "competition effect"). On the other hand, consumption of free MP3s could lead people to buy CD which they would never have bought otherwise (the “sampling effect”). Because the court in the Napster case and some academic researchers have dismissed this sampling effect, this article seeks to assess whether sampling does indeed occur and in the affirmative what are the relative contributions of the positive sampling and the negative competition effects of MP3 files on CD purchases. To do so, we administered an anonymous online survey in two French graduate schools from May 26 to June 3, 2004. We find that there are two populations: explorers and pirates. For the explorers, MP3 downloading from P2P networks has a positive impact on CD consumption. For the pirates, anonymous file-sharing on the internet and intranets has a negative effect on CD consumption, while physical exchanges have a positive effect.