I assume at some point I'll have to do a search for any data that contradicts this, and then get into the methodologies and suchlike.
But for now, since not many people have actually investigated this issue, and instead people tend to make sweeping statements based on moral judgements of the people involved, I'll just point out that the moral judgments of people who file-share as altruistic or at least valuing music highly (rather than as freeloading bastards) seem to be more justified.
The Leading Question, a music industry research group, conducted a survey of 600 music fans who also own computers and mobile phones. the results?
"those who regularly download or share unlicensed music also spend an average of £5.52 a month on legal downloads through sites such as Apple's iTunes Music Store or Napster. Those who were not illegally filesharing spent just £1.27 a month on digital tracks.
""The 2005 Speakerbox research shows that music fans who break piracy laws are highly valuable customers," said Paul Brindley, director of The Leading Question.""
The Guardian article quotes BPI (like the British RIAA) director saying
""It's encouraging that many illegal file sharers are starting to use legal services. But our concern is that file sharers' expenditure on music overall is down, a fact borne out by study after study," said Mr Phillips. "While a third of illegal file sharers may buy more music, around two-thirds buy less, and that two-thirds tends to include people who were the heaviest buyers. That's why we need to continue our carrot and stick approach to the problem of illegal filesharing.""
This is plainly bull. I haven't seen any studies that compare the same people, pre-filesharing and post, to show that how people's buying habits have changed. It would be a pretty stupid study to undertake, considering that paid-for music downloading is much newer than free music downloading. --i.e. the study would be tracking the growing availability of paid downloading, not the growing propensity of people to do it.
Phillips is trying to shift the interpretation of these results - he wants them to mean that the same people who paid for fewer tunes, are paying for more now. But that's not what the study addresses - the study addresses the question of what KIND of person fileshares. Why is this important? Well, from a strictly capitalist perspective, one might want to know how people behave, so that you can market products to them, and design delivery mechanisms that appeal to them.
Rather than do that, the content cartels are attempting to define free music downloaders as de facto bad, for moral reasons. They are attempting to change behavior and preferences. This seems like kind of a losing battle, or at least an expensive one. Even though there seems to be a tidy profit in threatening weak-positioned file sharers with lawsuits in exchange for settlements...*
which brings me to some non-capitalist points -->(which have become The Blog Entry That Ate Everything, including My Dinner And I'm Hungry, So Will Continue It Later)<--
*At some point I want an expose on this - is this what content industries are now? companies that make money by suing people over the use of already created content? From what I hear, this is true in patents even more - companies patent everything possible, and have lawyers who just troll around looking for people to sue. Or individuals patent everything defensively for the same reason - then you don't even have to make market or sell it, you can just wait for someone else to use the same idea and sue them. seems like the opposite of "promoting the progress of science and the useful arts."