Skip to main content

Facts & Research


2024 | Piracy Impact

Assessing the Academic Literature Regarding the Impact of Media Piracy on Sales | Carnegie Mellon

The goal of this paper is to provide a non­‐technical discussion of what the academic literatures in economics, marketing, and information systems can tell us about how piracy impacts sales of media products. The vast majority of the literature (and particularly the literature published in top peer reviewed journals) finds evidence that piracy harms media sales.

Key Findings

  • The papers reviewed span a variety of methods, time periods, and contexts.
  • Nearly all papers published in major peer-reviewed academic journals find evidence of statistically significant harm to sales of recently released content as a result of illegal file sharing.
  • The one dissenting paper reviewed should be lauded for innovative methods of data collection, and for being among the very first papers published to address this question. However, there have been significant questions raised about the appropriateness of its instrumental variable.

Source: Prof. Michael D. Smith, Prof. Rahul Telang, Carnegie Mellon University