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Cost of Piracy, Cost of Copyright

April 15, 2010

It is a hard thing to estimate the cost of the possible (if any) loss that companies might get from piracy. The industry argument goes that each copy pirated is a lost sale; yet this seems an over-estimate as there must be people pirating media artefacts who would not consume it is they had to purchase it. A counter argument goes that the pirates are not people who were ever going to pay, so nothing is lost – which also seems an argument too far in the other direction. Clearly there are not one single ‘type’ of pirate; people do it for many reasons.  Some studies have found that pirates are avid consumers, whereas studies from industry lobby groups often distort the findings for political reasons.

So it is with big surprise that the US Government’s internal watchdog’s study into the issue can’t arrive at a conclusion of how much piracy costs.

What is also interesting in this area is a spreadsheet put online to show the various amounts of sales/streams that a musician would need to do per year to make the minimum wage…

– 54,588,235 streams of Spotify.

– 148,789 MP3 sales in iTunes.

– 92,986 Commercial CD sales (low end of royalties).

– 1720 self-pressed CDs.

So what is clear is that the best income stream for musicians is the DIY approach – if you can sell ’em. However it does not account for live gigging – and other sales opportunities; t-shirts and the like. Still it is interesting…

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