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One of the things that make blogs particularly interesting are series. In this blog, for example, Phil features a series on “microcredit myths“. The “series” series recommends series at related blogs. This time I introduce the series “How Evil is File-sharing?” at the German research blog “musikwirtschaftsforschung“.

Peter Tschmuck, founder of “musikwirtschaftsforschung” (“music industry research”), is an economist by training, who is situated at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna. In his works he pursues a holistic approach in researching how technological and regulatory changes affect the music industry. Unsurprisingly, new practices such as online file-sharing (see also: “Internet Piracy: A Perfect Excuse?“) play an important role in his research as well as on his blog, where he started a series titled “How Evil is File-sharing?”. We feature this series not only because it gives a great overview – regrettably only available in German -, but also because it is the main topic of the upcoming “Vienna Music Business Research Days” (English PDF), June 9-10, 2010.

After having reviewed 17 studies on file-sharing in the course of the series (see list of studies below), in post #18 Peter Tschmuck groups the extant literature into three categories (number of studies in brackets):

  • Formal approaches (4): Due to the very unrealistic assumptions of these either microeconomic (e.g. Liebowitz 2006) or game theoretical (e.g. Curien & Moreau 2005) models, Tschmuck summarizes their implications as ranging from “no usable information” to “interesting but still empirically unfeasible insights”.
  • Survey-based approaches (7): With one exception (Huygen et al. 2009), all available surveys lack representative samples, thus making generalizations difficult. Interestingly, Huygen et al.’s study, which is representative at least for the Netherlands, finds no connection between the decline in CD sales and file-sharing activities.
  • Econometric approaches (6): Among the econometric approaches, Tschmuck highlights the two Harvard-studies of Oberholzer-Gee & Strumpf (2007) and Blackburn (2004) as being particularly reliable.

In what follows, Tschmuck delineates propositions for further research on the issue. For the supply side he mentions the following three characteristics: The music industry resembles (1) oligopolistic market structures, labels in general and major labels in particular (2) seek to maximize market share and due to copyright regulation we find (3) monopolistic competition.

On the demand side, in turn, he acknowledges the existence of (1) a substitution effect of file-sharing and record sales, which is however balanced by something Tschmuck calls (2) “network effect” in form of new music discovered via file-sharing. The latter lies at the heart of market development and market segmentation.

As a conclusion, Tschmuck offers the following (translation L.D.):

Anyone who wants to belong to future winners has to abandon traditional business models and harvest new opportunities for making profit. The battle against music file-sharing networks is thereby definitly not a sensible way to pursue. One should rather consider how these new forms of using music can be economically capitalized, which brings us to the discussions on music flat-rates and new types of copyright.

Which, in turn, brings us back to posts on this blog such as, for example, “Extending Private Copying Levies: Approaching a Culture Flat-rate?” regarding the former and “Competition for Copyright Collectives: New Market Logics” regarding the latter.

(leonhard)

Appendix: Studies reviewed in the series “How Evil is File-sharing?”: Read the rest of this entry »

The Book

Governance across borders: transnational fields and transversal themes. Leonhard Dobusch, Philip Mader and Sigrid Quack (eds.), 2013, epubli publishers.
November 2014
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