Earlier this year, tech site Techdirt launched its own digital think-tank called The Copia Institute, promising to “focus on the challenges and opportunities we face in this age of abundance”.

Its latest report came out yesterday: Carrot or Stick? It aims to compare the impact of authorised services (Spotify, Deezer etc in the music market) with anti-piracy legislation on tackling online infringement, examining countries including France, the UK, Sweden, South Korea, Japan and New Zealand.

In short: the report claims that strong anti-piracy laws often cause a short-term decline in piracy that quickly trails off; that the introduction of legal services has a bigger (and longer-lasting) impact; and that “we found little evidence to suggest that the combination of the carrot and the stick is needed…  if the industry is serious about increasing digital revenue and decreasing piracy, its efforts should shift away from pushing anti-piracy laws, and towards enabling and encouraging greater innovation in the form of new services.”

With Google and VC firms Andreessen Horowitz and Spark Capital among The Copia Institute’s sponsors, we expect some criticism of the report’s motivations. But it’s worth reading as part of the wider debate around carrots, sticks and the music industry’s anti-piracy strategy.

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