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Piracy or promotion? The impact of broadband Internet penetration on DVD sales

  • Smith, Michael D.
  • Telang, Rahul
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    The Internet provides copyright holders with new sales and promotional channels for their content, while also providing consumers with new opportunities to illegally obtain free copies of this content. Unfortunately, disentangling these two effects is extremely difficult. In this paper we attempt to disentangle these two effects by applying fixed effects and first difference models to a new dataset quantifying changes in broadband Internet penetration and DVD sales at a local level from 2000 to 2003. We then compare our results to those reported in Liebowitz (2008), who uses similar models in a similar time period on a similar product category: music CDs. Unlike Liebowitz, who finds a strong negative impact of broadband penetration on music sales, our results show that increased broadband penetration leads to a significant increase in DVD sales. Using the most conservative results, 9.3% of the $14.1 billion increase in DVD sales during our study period can be attributed to increased broadband penetration. One interpretation of these results is that the difference arises from differences in the ability to pirate these two types of content: while Internet music piracy was easy and rampant from 2000 to 2003, Internet movie piracy was difficult and of generally low quality in this time period. If this interpretation is true it would suggest that, in the absence of piracy, the Internet has an overall strong positive impact on media sales.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6V8J-4YRXCWV-1/2/2ce36fd83e1a0fb5fb02048a5b712cc9
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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Information Economics and Policy.

    Volume (Year): 22 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 4 (December)
    Pages: 289-298

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:iepoli:v:22:y:2010:i:4:p:289-298
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505549

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    1. Mortimer, Julie Holland, 2007. "Price Discrimination, Copyright Law, and Technological Innovation: Evidence From The Introduction of DVDs," Scholarly Articles 3425914, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    2. Baltagi, Badi H. & Wu, Ping X., 1999. "Unequally Spaced Panel Data Regressions With Ar(1) Disturbances," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 15(06), pages 814-823, December.
    3. Hui Kai-Lung & Png Ivan, 2003. "Piracy and the Legitimate Demand for Recorded Music," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 2(1), pages 1-24, September.
    4. Rafael Rob & Joel Waldfogel, 2004. "Piracy on the High C's: Music Downloading, Sales Displacement, and Social Welfare in a Sample of College Students," NBER Working Papers 10874, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Erik Brynjolfsson & Yu (Jeffrey) Hu & Michael D. Smith, 2003. "Consumer Surplus in the Digital Economy: Estimating the Value of Increased Product Variety at Online Booksellers," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 49(11), pages 1580-1596, November.
    6. Sudip Bhattacharjee & Ram D. Gopal & Kaveepan Lertwachara & James R. Marsden & Rahul Telang, 2007. "The Effect of Digital Sharing Technologies on Music Markets: A Survival Analysis of Albums on Ranking Charts," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 53(9), pages 1359-1374, September.
    7. Martin Peitz & Patrick Waelbroeck, 2003. "Piracy of Digital Products: A Critical Review of the Economics Literature," CESifo Working Paper Series 1071, CESifo Group Munich.
    8. Zentner, Alejandro, 2006. "Measuring the Effect of File Sharing on Music Purchases," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 49(1), pages 63-90, April.
    9. Brett Danaher & Samita Dhanasobhon & Michael D. Smith & Rahul Telang, 2010. "Converting Pirates Without Cannibalizing Purchasers: The Impact of Digital Distribution on Physical Sales and Internet Piracy," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 29(6), pages 1138-1151, 11-12.
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