It’s common sense: taking a thing that you used to pay for is not good for the people who created that thing. But when it comes to entertainment piracy, lots of folks—whether motivated by statistical curiosity, forward-thinking vision or a desire to rationalize their own law-breaking—have argued that things aren’t quite so simple. Now, with the release of a new analysis of 16,000 European music consumers, those on the side of piracy have evidence to back them up.

A few findings of the study — conducted by Luis Aguiar and Bertin Martins using Nielsen “clickstream” data, and released by the European Commission Joint Research Centre — confirmed assummptions: attitudes differed by country, and piracy definitely affects off-line music sales.

But one was startling: illegal music downloads, they discovered, had essentially no effect on the number of legal music downloads:

Perhaps surprisingly, our results present no evidence of digital music sales…

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