Most digital industries are claiming piracy is bad, that its hurting sales and destroying the marketplace.But so far all we've actually seen in a decline in album sales and recently game developers fleeing from the PC platform. We've also seen increased sales on the machines that have easy access pirated material: iPod, Nintendo DS, Playstation, PC. The machines are selling like hotcakes, why isn't the software selling? The current industry theory is that piracy is destroying the marketplace, but let's look at one more piece of the puzzle before I launch my own opinion: PC titles that are easily accessable and do NOT use DRM sell. Not just a little either, they're actually on par with sales estimates that don't calculate with piracy.
Why is this? Well, from the hardware sales we can draw the simple conclusion that consumers are buying the hardware that supports the most variety; "I wan't a DS 'cause it has the most games".
Shouldn't they buy games to then? Perhaps they do. But if they're unsure about a product why not download it first? It's often simpler and quicker then going to the store. Oh, and you don't need to wait for the company to ship it to your part of the world either. The DS is actually selling a lot of games per console. So even though piracy is rampant it's not really hurting sales. Or at least, there is no data to support that. Maybe if Nintendo let consumer access demos of games when the consumers wanted to instead of through another console and when it's released in the right territory we'll have something to compare with.
Why isn't the iPod driving sales then? This is the simplest answer ever. A single song through iTunes cost 0.99$... This might not sound expensive, but that's insanely expensive. Think about it like this; from the sellers point of view the price is honest or even cheap. But consumers usually have gigabytes of music... That translated to thousands and thousands of songs and very few people can afford to pay thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars for music. They will choose either to pirate it or not buy it at all. So when the music industry is trying to close down pirates, their really destroying the demand for music.
So is piracy hurting sales? Maybe. But it's also making sure that consumers actually get the media item, type and/or quantity they want. If publishers made their products as easily available as pirated material and for prices that consumers are actually prepared to pay piracy might be a thing of the past.
Now I don't want comments saying that products will always be to expensive etc etc. If that were the case the pirates would never buy the product under any circumstances and the industry would therefore not be loosing sales.