BSA's Canadian Piracy Numbers Based On Hunches, Not Actual Surveys

from the bogus-stats-as-always dept

For years, we've been raising questions about the incredibly bogus stats the BSA puts out every year. There are so many problems with them it's incredible that the group continues to release them each year... and much worse that the press and politicians quote them as if they're factual. However, Michael Geist has discovered that they're even worse than originally thought. In digging deeper into the questionable claims of the report by The Conference Board of Canada that was basically a cut and paste from various industry groups, Geist noticed that the report relied on some BSA data. So he asked for more info on how the BSA determined the "piracy" rate of software in Canada. How many people were surveyed? What was the methodology?

In response, Geist found out that no one in Canada was surveyed, and BSA (and IDC who created the report) simply made an educated guess, assuming the piracy rates weren't all that different than they were in past years. Yet this hunch, based on no actual data, is being used as a definitive source of piracy numbers in Canada? Even more noteworthy, both the BSA and The Conference Board report use these numbers to support the silly claim that Canada is somehow one of the worst offenders when it comes to supporting "piracy." But what was the reason for not surveying companies in Canada?
"Countries that are included in the survey portion are chosen to represent the more volatile economies. IDC has found from past research that low piracy countries, generally mature markets, have stable software loads by segment, with yearly variations driven more by segment dynamics (e.g. consumer shipment versus business shipments of PCs) than by load-by-load segment."
So... just to get this straight. IDC doesn't bother to survey Canadians about software piracy, because it considers Canada to be a "low piracy" country. So it just makes up the number... and then the BSA, other lobbyists, research groups, the press and politicians (including the US Trade Representative) use these made up numbers to support the claims that Canada is a high piracy country. Doesn't that seem like fraud?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Ima Fish (profile), May 27th, 2009 @ 12:31pm

    Mike, I think you want to change the title from "Privacy" to "Piracy."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), May 27th, 2009 @ 12:36pm

    Re:

    Mike, I think you want to change the title from "Privacy" to "Piracy."

    Oops! You're right. Fixed. Sorry about that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    Tgeigs (profile), May 27th, 2009 @ 12:37pm

    I like this hunch thing....

    "BSA's Canadian Privacy Numbers Based On Hunches, Not Actual Surveys"

    Tgeigs' numbers say that 94.6% of those working at/with the BSA are child molesting nun-slappers.


    Oooooh, this IS fun!

     

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  4.  
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    R. Miles (profile), May 27th, 2009 @ 12:41pm

    Re: Re:

    One more edit for you:
    "Geist fond out"
    fond = found.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Rebel Freek, May 27th, 2009 @ 1:02pm

    Do they think people wont look closer at the numbers or something?

    Actually, I think I would like having the statistician's job over there. Hell, anyone can just come up with bogus numbers without haveing to do any work...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), May 27th, 2009 @ 1:08pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    One more edit for you:

    Oops. Fixed. Thanks.

     

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  7.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), May 27th, 2009 @ 1:10pm

    Re:

    "Do they think people wont look closer at the numbers or something?"

    I welcome the BSA to the Internet. In print there may have been a few thousand readers (a few hundred, a few dozen, a few?), on the Internet there are a few million. The odds of someone who reads the report actually caring enough to fact check raises exponentially.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2009 @ 1:14pm

    Careful reading shows that BSA doesn't just pull the number out of their ass, it is based on computer sales versus software sales, etc. No Canadians were surveyed, but the numbers are not based on a random number generator.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Rebel Freek (profile), May 27th, 2009 @ 1:26pm

    Re:

    Not all software is for everyone, so by basing a statistic of piracy on that would be pulling a number out of someones ass. Its basically saying that if someone goes out and buys a netbook to use the internet and nothing else he is adding to piracy.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2009 @ 1:29pm

    Its my hunch that the BSA pirated my piracy numbers. The same numbers I guessed at based on the sale of widgets on Mars. They owe me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2009 @ 1:34pm

    And piracy rates are related to computer and software sales exactly how? They pulled a number out of their ass somewhere, whether it was the actual piracy number or their estimate based on sales.


    Conversation at BSA: "Let's see there were 1 million computers sold so at least, what, 30% must be pirates? 30% sounds good to you, eh? Sure, run with it, we'll use that number this year, that's what 300,000 pirates in Canada?"

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2009 @ 1:42pm

    Re:

    have many copies of autoroute uk was so in canada
    i'll guess 0 so that means all copies of autoroute uk in canada are pirated

     

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  13.  
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    Marcus Carab, May 27th, 2009 @ 1:46pm

    Re:

    You are right - but the problem is in the fact that this methodology, by their own admission, only works in "low piracy" countries, and yet has been used to label Canada a "high piracy" country. It's not just misleading or inaccurate, it's actually self-contradictory. I'm hardly shocked that the BSA doesn't follow the rules of good statistics, but I'm at least a tad surprised that they don't even follow their OWN rules for statistics.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2009 @ 1:46pm

    Statistics show that 99.99 percent of statistics are made up on the spot.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    mark Rosedale (profile), May 27th, 2009 @ 1:49pm

    I wish I could laugh

    If the ramifications weren't so serious and if those people didn't take it seriously this would be absolutely laughable. I couldn't have gotten away with research like that in high school much less college and I would be kicked out of school in Grad school. How can such a gross overstatement go unchecked for so long. The worst part about this is that no one will pay attention or change their opinion about this. Sad, truly sad indeed.

     

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  16.  
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    Tgeigs (profile), May 27th, 2009 @ 1:55pm

    Re:

    Figures never lie but liars figure...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2009 @ 1:58pm

    As a tangent thread notice the mainstream media parrots these numbers as 'fact' and the bloggers have pointed out they are completely baseless?

    So where's the fact checking, editorial oversight and quality reporting we should happy to pay a premium to see?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 27th, 2009 @ 2:06pm

    Re:

    Just because you replace hardware doesn't mean you replace all the software. Also note many consumers are moving to open source solutions and on-line offerings that directly compete with commercial software we used to buy.

    I bought a PC recently and the only commercial software on it the OS and some games I reinstalled after my old PC bit the dust. I use Chrome, Gmail, Google Docs, Open Office, ClamAV, VLC, etc. I didn't buy software because these days I don't really need to do so. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one to figure out you can tell M$ to go get stuffed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    Alan, May 27th, 2009 @ 3:53pm

    Re: Re:

    But of course if a netbook is sold without other software it has to be for piracy. What else is the 'net for? (See Sony et al.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    Robert A. Rosenberg, May 27th, 2009 @ 6:40pm

    Funny Statistics

    In response, Geist found out that no one in Canada was surveyed, and BSA (and IDC who created the report) simply made an educated guess, assuming the piracy rates weren't all that different than they were in past years.

    OK. Even if we assume/pretend that that the rate of piracy is stable, where did last year's (or the year before they stopped measuring it and just did a Cut and Paste of the prior year's figures) come from?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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