The RIAA has admitted that music pirates are bigger music fans than non-pirates, and tend to spend more on music compared to normal consumers.
Last month, a study of US and German digital habits found that file-sharers buy 30% more music than other people, making them the music industry's best customers.
In an attempt to play down the study, the RIAA has now responded by saying this is only true because music pirates are more interested in music than the average consumer to begin with.
"In reality, the comparison is unfair what it's comparing is people who are interested in music with people who might not be interested at all. Of course people interested in music buy more," said Vice President of Research and Strategic Analysis Joshua Friedlander.
Torrent Freak ridicules their response, and notes that 18-35 year-old file-sharers typically spend 40% more than those who don't share at all. On average in 2011, they spend $267 compared to $191, suggesting that music pirates are more engaged in music and are more likely to attend gigs and buy t-shirts.
But it raises a more interesting question: Do engaged fans simply turn to pirating to satisfy their music tastes, or do they become engaged because they spend time discovering new acts? If you think you know the answer, join the debate in the comments.