Now It's The UK's Turn For Some Bogus Piracy Stats

from the fun-with-numbers dept

There are plenty of instances of misleading and otherwise bad stats being used by anti-piracy groups, like the recent BSA numbers from Canada that were basically made up. Now, a group from the UK is saying that piracy costs that country's economy tens of billions of pounds. It makes the same mistake as plenty of other studies before it: counting every instance of piracy, or perhaps even just the availability of copyrighted material on file-sharing networks, as a lost sale. It's fallacious to assume that every single person that downloads a piece of content, or simply has access to it for free, would pay for it if the free version wasn't available. Furthermore, any study like this that says an entire economy is being harmed by X amount of money because of piracy is pretty much bogus. This money that's supposedly being lost because of piracy isn't being lost by the economy, as undoubtedly it's being spent elsewhere. It's not being flushed down the toilet or turned into ether, it's just not ending up in content companies' bank accounts.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2009 @ 7:42am

    It's fun to watch you guys link to your own opinion pieces as if they are cast in stone facts. Repeating something often enough doesn't make it the truth, but you will certainly fool a few idiots out there.

     

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

  2.  
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    Rebel Freek (profile), Jun 1st, 2009 @ 7:50am

    Re:

    Yet this is an opinion piece formed from his view of the news in which he sees those opinions as relevant. Maybe your just not seeing the that your lagging behind the fact that this blog mainly deals with opinions, therefore there are going to be peope siding with other opinions throughout the postings...

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2009 @ 8:04am

    Re: Re:

    Not the point rebel. Carlo is entitled to an opinion. What I object to is the building of opinion on opinion. The links on terms like "lost sale" and "bogus" point to other techdirt opinion entries, which in turn for the most part point to other opinion pages from techdirt and potentially opinion pieces on other sites.

    The links are done like they are fact, Carlo's opinion is "supported" by these facts, yet they aren't facts - just more opinion.

    So I don't object to Carlo's opinion piece, I just object to creating a house of cards out of opinions and attempting to pass it all off as fact.

     

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  4.  
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    Glyn Moody, Jun 1st, 2009 @ 8:17am

    £10 billion figure even more bogus than it seems

    The report quotes the £10 billion figure, attributing it to an earlier government report. But if you look at that, it turns out to be quoting the media industries themselves, without any further independent justification for that particular figure. Details here:

    http://opendotdotdot.blogspot.com/2009/05/why-copycats-report-has-copycat-problem.html

     

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  5.  
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    Designerfx (profile), Jun 1st, 2009 @ 8:25am

    Re:

    There's more fact in this article than there has been in all of the BSA, RIAA and MPAA studies. So what's your point?

     

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  6.  
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    Talmyr (profile), Jun 1st, 2009 @ 8:50am

    Re:

    "It's fun to watch you Anonymous guys repeat your own opinions as if they are cast in stone facts. Repeating something often enough doesn't make it the truth, but you will certainly fool a few idiots out there."

    Fixed.

    This 'opinion' might be more valuable if not constantly clothed in yellow.

     

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  7.  
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    John Doe, Jun 1st, 2009 @ 8:56am

    70% of all statistics are made up.

     

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  8.  
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    cram, Jun 1st, 2009 @ 9:00am

    "It's fallacious to assume that every single person that downloads a piece of content, or simply has access to it for free, would pay for it if the free version wasn't available."

    Isn't it also fallacious to presume that every single person that downloads something would NOT have paid for it if it hadn't been available online?

    Clearly the true number of "lost sales" is somewhere in between.

     

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  9.  
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    minijedimaster (profile), Jun 1st, 2009 @ 9:02am

    Re: Re: Re:

    which in turn for the most part point to other opinion pages from techdirt

    Key phrase bolded, you yourself admit that the other "opinion" pieces point to actual studies and outside news sources. I don't think that Carlo here or Mike elsewhere point to other techdirt articles as "support" for the current one but to point you back down the path of the same subject they've already covered which has been supported by other facts. It's just that it's not completely spoon fed to you and your laziness doesn't work out for you. Get over it and STFU.

     

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  10.  
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    minijedimaster (profile), Jun 1st, 2009 @ 9:05am

    Re:

    Good job, you found the point of the article and pretended like you came up with it. I guess you're just one of those people that don't think something is valid unless you thought it up yourself.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2009 @ 9:07am

    Re:

    The BSA is calculating their numbers assume 100% of pirated copies are lost sales. Nobody is saying the real number is actually 0.

    You are arguing against a presumption that nobody holds.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2009 @ 9:18am

    I'd like to see somebody analyze any societal benefits of piracy.

    Using pirated software is one way of lowering my expenses. Using fewer resources to produce more product equals increased productivity and perhaps lower.

    I don't actually think this is a good idea, but it must happen in the same way that companies are sometimes willing to break the law because the potential penalties are less than the possible benefits. Any fine is just the cost of doing business.

     

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  13.  
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    cram, Jun 1st, 2009 @ 9:21am

    Re: Re:

    "The BSA is calculating their numbers assume 100% of pirated copies are lost sales. Nobody is saying the real number is actually 0."

    Then why do I never see Techdirt writers mention that the actual number is not zero or 100, but somewhere in between? Because they would have to admit that piracy does cause some lost sales and that the industry is actually losing money due to piracy.

     

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  14.  
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    Garry, Jun 1st, 2009 @ 9:22am

    Anyone look at the report??

    The main point of the article is completely misrepresenting the findings of the report. The 12Bn figure cannot be localised to the UK. In the methodology, the researchers went on a P2P tool and saw that there were 1.3Million users. The rest of their figures are extrapolated from this "research".

     

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  15.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 1st, 2009 @ 9:25am

    Re:

    It's fun to watch you guys link to your own opinion pieces as if they are cast in stone facts. Repeating something often enough doesn't make it the truth, but you will certainly fool a few idiots out there.

    To be clear, unlike AC's claims, we don't like back to earlier pieces as "fact." We do so to help people understand our thinking and our opinions. Rather than needing to rewrite everything from scratch, the link backs help show people what our earlier thinking was.

    But pretty much every post on this site is an opinion post and always has been. We never said otherwise.

     

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  16.  
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    cram, Jun 1st, 2009 @ 9:27am

    Carlo

    "This money that's supposedly being lost because of piracy isn't being lost by the economy, as undoubtedly it's being spent elsewhere."

    It is being spent at the expense of the content owners. How do you justify that?

    "It's not being flushed down the toilet or turned into ether, it's just not ending up in content companies' bank accounts."

    And that's a good thing? You are sounding gleeful that money that ought to have been spent on content is ending up somewhere else simply because infinite content can be obtained for free whereas scarce goods cannot.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2009 @ 9:29am

    Re: Re:

    Actually, plenty of people are saying it's zero, because they are claiming that piracy causes no harm.

    I think that only a fool would believe that.

     

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  18.  
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    CastorTroy-Libertarian, Jun 1st, 2009 @ 9:36am

    Re: Re: Re:

    So how much do you make to lobby for Big-Entertainment?

    Look no one here ever said that the "entertainment" industry isn't loosing money to online sharing. What we do say is that they are needlessly losing a lot of money to lawsuits, propaganda, and lobbiest, trying to get cash back and save the old way of doing things, instead of looking at the problem from the otherside. If the industry followed a few examples and really thought about it they could make triple what they are losing with better business plan and embracing the fans... as of now all they are doing is turning fans away and moving them to other companies that treat them well...

     

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  19.  
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    Peet McKimmie (profile), Jun 1st, 2009 @ 9:39am

    Take a leaf from advertisers...

    Just say that it's costing the economy *up to* tens of millions of pounds and everybody will be happy.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2009 @ 9:45am

    Re:

    Cram,

    I don't think the purpose of Carlo's post is to justify or rationalize the act of IP piracy but to poke holes in argument of the anti-piracy groups that the entire UK economy is suffering a loss of 10 Billion pounds as a result of it. I absolutely agree with you that a reasonable loss due to piracy is somewhere in between 0 and 10 Billion, but Carlo isn't addressing that here. If anything, his article supports that statement in so much as asserting that losses do not amount to 10 Billion.

     

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  21.  
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    Simon (profile), Jun 1st, 2009 @ 9:45am

    Re:

    Where does he sound gleeful?

    He's not saying it's a good thing, or that it's fair, simply that it's a lie to say that money is being removed from the wider economy because of it.

     

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  22.  
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    DanC (profile), Jun 1st, 2009 @ 9:48am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Because they would have to admit that piracy does cause some lost sales and that the industry is actually losing money due to piracy.

    Because the point Techdirt has consistently made is that piracy is nowhere near as big a problem as content providers want the public to believe, and that there are ways to take advantage of piracy and benefit from it.

    As the previous commentator stated, you are arguing against something Techdirt hasn't stated. And when called on it, you change tactics to imply that the site is somehow trying to trick people because they didn't state that some sales were lost.

    Additionally, while you have the BSA coming up with bogus statistics, determining a realistic number of how many instances of piracy would have been legitimate sales is incredibly difficult, if not impossible. It makes more sense to debunk the jokers stating that the industry loses billions to piracy than engaging in speculation as to what the actual number is.

     

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  23.  
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    ChrisB (profile), Jun 1st, 2009 @ 9:49am

    Re: Re: Re:

    No. People are saying piracy is not "stealing", because stealing removes the original item. It is true that media creators will not make the same amount of money as before. But I think the previous system was corrupt and a monopoly and the revenue they will now be getting is fairer.

    Have you ever seen a really crappy movie or bought an album that was garbage, except for the single? What is your response? "Oh well, guess I'll learn next time"? That business model is dead, as the consumer is sick of being duped to purchase crappy mass-produced media. I have bought the movie Terminator 2 at least four times (including seeing it in the theatre). That crap is going to end whether people like it or not.

     

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  24.  
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    Steven (profile), Jun 1st, 2009 @ 10:15am

    Re: Re: Re:

    At this point I'm going to assume your careful misquote is purposeful.

    The 'no harm' claim that has been made, and well supported IMHO, that piracy causes no harm to the overall economy. It has been stated repeatedly that piracy causes harm to the recording industries current business model which is based on a scarcity that no longer exists.

     

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  25.  
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    cram, Jun 1st, 2009 @ 10:34am

    Hi DanC

    "Because the point Techdirt has consistently made is that piracy is nowhere near as big a problem as content providers want the public to believe..."

    What is the evidence? How does Techdirt know it is "nowhere as big a problem"? Everyone seems unanimous that the industry's stats are bogus but no one seems to have any stats of their own? And who defines the "bigness" of the problem? If we assume 80% of the industry stats are bogus, then they are still right in claiming losses of a couple of billion pounds. Is that not big enough?

    "As the previous commentator stated, you are arguing against something Techdirt hasn't stated."

    No, by leaving out that part, Techdirt doesn't give the full picture.

    "And when called on it, you change tactics to imply that the site is somehow trying to trick people because they didn't state that some sales were lost."

    I never changed my tactics. And this is not the first time I have raised this point. Techdirt writers are well-known for very cleverly leaving out vital information in their posts. I was merely calling on them.

     

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  26.  
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    Steven (profile), Jun 1st, 2009 @ 11:02am

    Re:

    "No, by leaving out that part, Techdirt doesn't give the full picture."

    So, ummm, why don't you post the correct numbers?

    Could it be that for all your blustering that you are just lazy and won't do any research?

    Your proposition is that illegal downloads are causing harm to legitimate music sales. So we would assume that there would be a correlating fall of music sales to the rise in popularity and use of P2P and other downloading means.

    Quick Google search would tend to counter that:

    http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/175167/cd_sales_versus_p2p_downloading.html?cat=33

    http://www.michaelgeist.ca/component/option,com_content/task,view/id,1168/Itemid,85/nsub,/

    ht tp://www.marketingcharts.com/interactive/study-p2p-music-downloads-increase-music-cd-sales-2287/

    These are just the first three from a Google search, and while there's no peer reviewed journal article, they tend to argue that it's not a significant problem and maybe even a benefit to CD sales.

    So please, if you are going to rail against anybody because they don't "give the full picture" at least bring something to to table.

     

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  27.  
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    Phillip, Jun 1st, 2009 @ 11:45am

    Re:

    I think that if anyone ever did a REAL study on how many statistics were made up, no one would believe their results.

     

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  28.  
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    minijedimaster (profile), Jun 1st, 2009 @ 12:10pm

    Re: Take a leaf from advertisers...

    Or by using the same logic, you can say it's costing the economy "as little as" 1.

     

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  29.  
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    DanC (profile), Jun 1st, 2009 @ 2:43pm

    Re:

    And who defines the "bigness" of the problem?

    Usually, it's the industry mounting the PR campaign and whining about their "massive" losses, because they have more lobbyists on their payroll.

    No, by leaving out that part, Techdirt doesn't give the full picture.

    As I stated, Techdirt is making the point that it is possible to benefit from the proliferation caused by piracy. It doesn't need to provide counter figures to the BSA's stats in order to do so.

    Techdirt writers are well-known for very cleverly leaving out vital information in their posts.

    It wasn't vital, since that wasn't the point the article was trying to get across.

     

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  30.  
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    Dan, Jun 1st, 2009 @ 2:59pm

    This is circular bullshit, each fallacy relying on a previous fallacy and so on. The BS in BSA is the primary tactic.

     

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  31.  
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    pogo, Jun 1st, 2009 @ 6:03pm

    Re:

    "Isn't it also fallacious to presume that every single person that downloads something would NOT have paid for it if it hadn't been available online?"

    It's fallacious to presume that no one downloads something, finds they like it and then buys a copy.

    "Clearly the true number of "lost sales" is somewhere in between."

    That's not clear at all since there are also a number of "gained sales". I have no idea if these are at all significant... the point is that no one really knows either.

    It's a problem of too many variables, not enough data, and ulterior motives behind all the calculations.

     

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  32.  
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    cram, Jun 1st, 2009 @ 9:05pm

    "So please, if you are going to rail against anybody because they don't "give the full picture" at least bring something to to table."

    Thanks for your research, Steve. Not that it's of any use. Perhaps you ought to read what's there in those sites before posting them here.

    The second and third links have nothing to with the UK - they pertain to Canada.

    The first one states stats from 2004! And it goes on to add: "In 2005 CD sales were down by 3.4% in terms of CD units sold," but then very cleverly asks: "but would that 3.4% be covered by the 250% increase of legal downloads from 220 million in 2004 to 790 million in 2005?"

    What about the illegal downloads? No one wants to address that. This is what riles me, this selective omiiting of information that's all too common among those banging the freeconomic drum.

    Though I am too lazy to actually dig up the research, I can tell you that between 2005 and now, P2P has grown exponentially. And CD sales are on the decline in the key markets.

     

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  33.  
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    sonicmerlin, Jun 1st, 2009 @ 10:54pm

    Re:

    Yes but online online music sales have BLOWN UP. The extreme popularity of iTunes and similar online stores has occurred in the last few years, basically since 2005. CD sales have declined, but legal music downloads more than compensated for them.

    Your dig at the studies in Canada are essentially meaningless. Human behavior with regards to internet usage is quite similar across western cultures.

    I agree that techdirt leaves out some information that prevents people but seeing the whole picture, but then even including all that extra information wouldn't make them less right. Just less effective in communicating their point.

    The RIAA, BSA, etc. on the other hand leave out *all* the information, and provide false data over and over again. Techdirt then is the (much) lesser of 2 evils.

     

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  34.  
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    Anthony (profile), Jun 1st, 2009 @ 11:15pm

    Look At Photshop

    It's commonly said that Photoshop is one of the most pirated programs in the world. Does anyone seriously think that the everyone who downloads it would pay the hundreds of dollars it costs if it wasn't available for free? I doubt even 1% would.

     

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  35.  
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    cram, Jun 1st, 2009 @ 11:17pm

    "Yes but online online music sales have BLOWN UP. The extreme popularity of iTunes and similar online stores has occurred in the last few years, basically since 2005."

    But according to Techdirt this is supposed to be a bad model, something that won't last long. And nowhere does Techdirt advocate replacement of CD sales with MP3 sales, because they wish people wouldn't buy infinite goods.

    They are agenda-driven: if more and more people start buying digital goods, no one's gonna ask Mike and his buddies for advice in the digital age.

    "CD sales have declined, but legal music downloads more than compensated for them."

    BS! Do you have evidence that shows legal downloads are compensating for the fall in CD sales? I think you're just making up stuff.

    "Your dig at the studies in Canada are essentially meaningless. Human behavior with regards to internet usage is quite similar across western cultures."

    What? So Canada, the UK and the US are all similar markets, where people behave similarly? I've never heard anything so weird.

    "...but then even including all that extra information wouldn't make them less right. Just less effective in communicating their point."

    WTF? They leave out information which drills a hole into their precious theories. If they include the info (not just in this post, but generally), people are gonna call on their BS. And we don't want that happening, do we?

     

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  36.  
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    Yeebok (profile), Jun 3rd, 2009 @ 1:00am

    I bet one group is not factored in ..

    For example, say I download a program, a song, or movie.
    Most people probably do this from time to time.
    Now I am not everyone, but I will also *BUY* whatever it is if it's good.
    If it's crap, it stays on the HD far less time than it takes to download. I'd rather I didn't waste $100 than the company get a benefit from outputting crap - for instance EA and Spore. I STILL regret paying for that.

     

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