Does Digital Piracy Really Hurt Movies?; May 2012; Scientific American Magazine; by Michael Moyer; 1 Page(s)
The shadowy nature of illegal media downloading makes it difficult for researchers to analyze the true relation between piracy and lost sales. Does every movie download represent a theater ticket left unpurchased, as the movie industry contends? Or are most downloaders people who never would have bought a ticket in the first place?
Two researchers have come up with a clever strategy to untangle one cause-and-effect relation. Economists Brett Danaher of Wellesley College and Joel Waldfogel of the University of Minnesota noticed that Hollywood studios often wait weeks after the U.S. premier before releasing a movie overseas. During that time, movie fans in foreign locales can find the film on BitTorrent-based file-sharing sites but not in their local theaters. If online piracy displaces ticket sales, these release lags should hurt a movie’s international box-office receipts.