Online Anime Piracy Helping DVD Sales?

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Internet Piracy Boosts Anime DVD Sales

There has been a war waged between file sharing sites and copyright owners for years now.  The reason cited is that DVD sales and optical media are taking a beating due to increased piracy.  However, a new study recently released by Tatsuo Tanaka may have copyright gurus and optical media industry leaders rethinking their piracy stance.

Tanaka, a faculty fellow with The Japanese Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI) and an associate professor of economics at Keio University, chose to use popular Japan anime programs as subjects in a study.  He was seeking to pinpoint whether piracy is harmful or helpful to DVD sales and rentals.  His findings, though not completely conclusive, indicate that ‘no publicity is bad publicity.’

Tanaka chose to use anime because they have standard lengths, and they are prevalent on both YouTube and Winny.  Those characteristics made them ideal for quantitative analysis.  Other mediums affected by piracy, such as music and books, would have been far more difficult to analyze.

There were 105 anime episodes on Winny, and 58 on YouTube.  The study showed that a 1% increase in YouTube views led to a .25% increase in anime DVD sales.  Rentals did not fare so well, however.  Indications suggest that a 1% increase in views on Winny decreased anime DVD’s being rented by 1.11%.

Basically, it all boils down to this: optical media has seen piracy as its ultimate demise.  As a result, it has taken on a defensive strategy.  Yet, looking at this study, it seems that piracy can actually help optical media continue to grow and thrive.

Think about it.  A person pops into Winny and becomes interested in a show.  They really get into it.  Naturally, they tune in for more.  Now, the consumer is completely hooked!  They cannot wait until they can get hold of the actual DVD!  Even better, they tell their friends to check it out, too!  That is a win – win situation for both Winny and optical media.

Tatsuo Tanaka may well be on to something here.  While one study is not enough to put an end to the war between piracy and optical media, it may be enough to call for a ceasefire until further research can be done.  After all, an ideal situation would be that file sharing and media giants could live peacefully and lucratively together.

What’s your take when it comes to online anime’s effect on DVD sales?  Weigh in on the war!

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