Alumna's Senior Thesis Inspires Timely Internet Piracy Study

January 31, 2012

A study coauthored by Brett Danaher , assistant professor in economics, Siwen Chen '11 , and researchers from Carnegie Mellon University, is stirring up controversy around a French copyright law. According to Danaher, Chen's senior thesis was what inspired the study. Chen presented her thesis,  Battle against Internet Piracy in France: Does “HADOPI” Affect Sales in the Media Industry?  at The 2011 Ruhlman Conference and won a Jerome A. Schiff Fellowship .

The law, known as HADOPI, was introduced in 2009 as a means to control and regulate internet access and encourage compliance with copyright laws. HADOPI is the acronym of the French government agency created to administer it (Haute Autorité pour la Diffusion des Œuvres et la Protection des Droits sur Internet). Violators of the law risk losing their access to the Internet.  

Danaher and Chen's study, titled " The Effect of Graduated Response Anti-Piracy Laws on Music Sales: Evidence from an Event Study in France ," found evidence that HADOPI has had a positive impact on iTunes sales in France. The analysis found that French iTunes sales saw a significant increase at exactly the period when awareness of HADOPI was at its highest. The study also found that the increase in sales was larger for more heavily-pirated genres, such as rap, and smaller for less-pirated genres, such as jazz. The "Digital Music Report 2012," a publication of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI)   quoted the researchers as saying:

“We see sales in France for heavily pirated genres rise much faster than less pirated genres, which suggests that this sales increase is due to a reduction in French piracy levels,” say the authors. “Our results have important implications for other countries in Europe and abroad who are considering passing similar graduated response laws.... We also note that our study likely understates the true impact of HADOPI.”

Danaher and Chen's study has been discussed in the French publication Le Monde , the Spanish publication El Publico (links are in French and Spanish, respectively), and in Billboard Magazine .