While the music and movie industry often make outrageous claims about the disastrous effect of piracy on their respective industries, researchers are still divided. Some researchers claim a considerable loss due to unauthorized sharing, while others have found that the overall effect of piracy is a positive one.
RIETI’s study on the effects of piracy on the sales of anime DVDs in Japan falls in the latter category.
In their paper the researchers examine the effects of YouTube and the popular P2P-network Winny on DVD sales and rentals of Japanese anime episodes.
“Estimated equations of 105 anime episodes show that (1) YouTube viewing does not negatively affect DVD rentals, and it appears to help raise DVD sales; and (2) although Winny file sharing negatively affects DVD rentals, it does not affect DVD sales,” the researchers conclude.
“YouTube’s effect of boosting DVD sales can be seen after the TV’s broadcasting of the series has concluded, which suggests that not just a few people learned about the program via a YouTube viewing. In other words YouTube can be interpreted as a promotion tool for DVD sales,” it adds.
The more exposure a work receives, the more people will have an opportunity to learn of it. Certainly from an artist's perspective this is desirable; you want the largest possible audience. Even for the giant corporations who are the real owners (in most cases, even when the copyright is in the artist's name) of copyrights it exposes the works to greater numbers who may otherwise never have heard of it. I've gone in search of music I've heard just as part of an unrelated YouTube video, where the work is being used as background music or the soundtrack. Many of those videos are then taken down by DMCA notices, or the video is forced to be redone with alternate music or none at all. That happened in one video I really enjoyed, and the music was a big part of it. I was all set to listen again to find out who the artist was, and found that the maker of the video had changed the music due to copyright issues. I probably would have gone in search of the album it was from, or looked for more music by that artist, but that opportunity for a sale was lost because of the corporate copyright Nazis.