Why Does The Press Still Blindly Believe 'Studies' Put Out By The Entertainment Industry?

from the makes-no-sense dept

For years upon years, we've seen the press parrot the "findings" of various entertainment industry "studies" about copyright or file sharing, and usually, as you dig into the details, you discover that the report's methodology is laughable. You would think that, with the GAO highlighting how bogus most of these reports are, earlier this year, that the press would be a bit more cautious about simply repeating the findings. No such luck.

A bunch of you have been sending over various versions of the story about a new study, sponsored by the movie industry in Australia, suggesting that practically all BitTorrent traffic was for infringing files, with the number 99.7% of the traffic being thrown around by otherwise respectable publications. Thankfully, TorrentFreak actually bothered to look at the details and rips apart the problems with the study, noting that each of the four questions the study "answers" appear to be based on bogus data.

None of this is to suggest, of course, that the majority of BitTorrent usage is not likely to be infringing works. I don't think anyone doubts that it is most widely used for such things. The question, however, is whether or not it's really just 0.3% that's not infringing. It's possible, but the study used here doesn't seem to support the claim.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Simon, Jul 26th, 2010 @ 6:12am

    Because...

    ..main stream media IS the entertainment industry?

     

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    NAMELESS.ONE, Jul 26th, 2010 @ 6:18am

    press = wrong word

    they are now referred to as media companies and most are either owned up the chain by hollywood or are media friendly as they say.

    Anyone else does not believe it....

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Jul 26th, 2010 @ 6:20am

    "The Press" doesn't believe anything.

    That'd require the ability to think. As already noted, "The Press" is just the publicity department -- of The Establishment I'd say, not just the entertainment industry -- and as such, duly transcribes what they're told. No scrutiny or doubt is permitted, and that's enforced by now and then a firing of someone who gets off message.

     

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    Nina Paley (profile), Jul 26th, 2010 @ 6:23am

    Why Does The Press Still Blindly Believe 'Studies' Put Out By The Entertainment Industry?

    Because the press IS the entertainment industry.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2010 @ 6:47am

    Why ask the question in the first place? Would anyone read a story that began "Copyright and File Sharing Not All that Common"? Would anyone read it?

     

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    Michael, Jul 26th, 2010 @ 6:59am

    Researchers?

    I would be embarrassed to be a researcher these days. Studies like this give the whole bag of them a bad name. I'm sure there are some that are neither corrupt nor incompetent, but at this point, I would not buy a newspaper from someone sporting that title (well, I suppose I get my news for free online these days anyway - the research departments at the newspapers seem rather 'unreliable' too).

     

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    Pixelation, Jul 26th, 2010 @ 7:11am

    Cheaper

    I imagine it's cheaper to just print something than it is to investigate first.

     

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    Joel (profile), Jul 26th, 2010 @ 7:26am

    Because...

    Most people will believe anything said by a professional... This is the same reason why critics exist, people generally will believe anything they are told and if it is said by a professional they will believe it even more. As long as people don't really dissect studies on their own and do research to understand what it is that they are looking at.

     

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    Jimr (profile), Jul 26th, 2010 @ 7:34am

    The press is just a mechanism to deliver propaganda to the masses - typically controlled by the government and/or by the advertisers.

    A real journalist would doubt the report and actually spend time investigating and confirming the facts. Also since the papers required ad money they will never really question a potential revenue source in fear that it may alienate those monies.

     

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    Freddy, Jul 26th, 2010 @ 7:51am

    why?

    "Why Does The Press Still Blindly Believe 'Studies' Put Out By The Entertainment Industry?"

    For the same reason that you blindly believe that people using BitTorrent are "potential customers" who will eventually pay something willingly. Oh, I know that everyone claims that they're just "tasting" and they'll pay "if it's good enough", but we know how it works and you blindly believe them.

     

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      martyburns (profile), Jul 26th, 2010 @ 9:53am

      Re: why?

      For the same reason that you blindly believe that people using BitTorrent are "potential customers" who will eventually pay something willingly. Who are you talking to? I've never read anything that says that on this website.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2010 @ 2:11pm

      Re: why?

      Funny, since studies have shown that "pirates" are also the biggest music consumers, since Valve admits that pirates are just underserved customers, since other game developers manage to sell plenty of games despite a complete lack of useless DRM, and since even one of many anecdotes proves your claim incorrect.

       

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      vivaelamor (profile), Jul 26th, 2010 @ 2:29pm

      Re: why?

      "For the same reason that you blindly believe that people using BitTorrent are "potential customers" who will eventually pay something willingly"

      You seem to have erred; if they 'will' eventually pay something then they are not potential customers, they are future customers. I believe you meant 'may' eventually pay something.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2010 @ 7:53am

    Sheer volume. If you pump it daily to the press they look at it like news. If the real reports got as much exposure to the press, they would make a difference. You have to release a version at least weekly if not daily. When you dispute a report, then to get the press attention, you have to follow up and keep following up. They have the RIAA and MPAA constantly sending out press releases, keeping it in the public mind. The truth can't compete with that unless it uses the same tactic. The truth needs a well funded group to handle it like the RIAA and MPAA, but alas the truth doesn't make money or allow control.

     

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    Michial Thompson, Jul 26th, 2010 @ 8:04am

    Same reason you blindly follow your studies

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2010 @ 3:14am

      Re: Same reason you blindly follow your studies

      Which contrary to thouse bogus stories have proper methodology and rely on facts.

       

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    Domnu, Jul 26th, 2010 @ 8:09am

    Wow... someone tell Blizzard!

    Well, if 99.7% of BitTorrent traffic is all pirated, someone better tell Blizzard that their game World of Warcraft (which distributes patches and even the installer files via BitTorrent) is really pirated. The 50 million plus people who play it are obviously all pirating something when patching the game.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2010 @ 8:48am

      Re: Wow... someone tell Blizzard!

      Yeah, I was thinking about that and about some very large Linux distributions that are well seeded at all times. 99.7% seems a bit high when you take into account the actual legal uses.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2010 @ 9:03am

        Re: Re: Wow... someone tell Blizzard!

        How many torrents does Debian alone have? i386, amd64, sparc, etc. And then you have the full install (about 5 dvds), net install, usb install...

        I don't know if Debian distributes older versions via BitTorrent, but lets assume they do. They have a crapload of torrents. And that's just ONE Linux.

         

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          vivaelamor (profile), Jul 26th, 2010 @ 2:44pm

          Re: Re: Re: Wow... someone tell Blizzard!

          "I don't know if Debian distributes older versions via BitTorrent, but lets assume they do. They have a crapload of torrents. And that's just ONE Linux."

          They way they did the study, regardless of bogus data, is heavily biased towards 'popular' torrents. While traffic for things such as Linux distributions may be far higher for individual files overall, they are not even included in the study because they are unlikely to ever have enough traffic at one time to be considered popular.

           

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            Nick Coghlan (profile), Jul 26th, 2010 @ 3:58pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Wow... someone tell Blizzard!

            More importantly, the legitimate torrents tend to have trackers run by the company or organisation distributing them. You don't need to get Warcraft/Debian/Ubuntu/OpenOffice/etc torrent files from torrent search sites because you get them directly from the relevant site (a process which is built into the game client in World of Warcraft's case).

            The study is basically "we ignored the major sources of legitimate BitTorrent traffic and found that most of the remaining BitTorrent traffic was illegitimate". Well, d'uh.

             

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              vivaelamor (profile), Jul 26th, 2010 @ 4:25pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Wow... someone tell Blizzard!

              "The study is basically "we ignored the major sources of legitimate BitTorrent traffic and found that most of the remaining BitTorrent traffic was illegitimate". Well, d'uh."

              What's really priceless is their response to the criticism:

              "Thank you for your enquiry regarding our research report "Investigation into the extent of infringing content on BitTorrent networks". As researchers, we not only stand by the findings that we have arrived at, but - having made our methodology public - we are providing other bona fide researchers to replicate and/or dispute our findings. Their results can in turn be assessed through the peer review process; this is the process that normal research activity takes.

              You have raised some interesting points that are fundamental to the validitiy of any study in this area: the sampling strategy; verification of results and so on. We believe that our methodology was rigorously applied to the sample that we obtained. Over time, we will replicate the sampling process, so that we will gain better estimates of the population results. This is the fundamental tenet of statistical sampling."

               

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        xenomancer (profile), Jul 27th, 2010 @ 3:52am

        Re: Re: Wow... someone tell Blizzard!

        www.distrowatch.com

        Linux is quite a large chunk of the traffic. Also, Twitter is now using torrent protocol to update its servers.

         

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    btrussell (profile), Jul 26th, 2010 @ 9:04am

    What doesn't have copyright that can also be shared on internet?

    Everything has copyright, including this post.
    Doesn't mean everything is illegal to share.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2010 @ 9:08am

    "None of this is to suggest, of course, that the majority of BitTorrent usage is not likely to be infringing works. I don't think anyone doubts that it is most widely used for such things."

    Sure it is. The same way the Internet (or any other communication medium, including talking) is mostly used to transmit infringing content. Heck, if it was up to the to content creators, just humming a song would already be infringing. It's almost impossible to do anything that can't be considered infringing these days.

     

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    TtfnJohn (profile), Jul 26th, 2010 @ 9:11am

    The Laziness of the News Media

    There's a couple of things going on here. The first is that the essential laziness of media is showing through when they blindly accept such tripe as fact. The second is that the more they cut back on reporters the more the first becomes evident.

    Then there's the fact that for newpapers the Entertainment section isn't treated as hard news (i.e. requiring a modicum of fact checking etc.) because it's really a cash cow. Kind of like the "New Homes" sections. (For television think the entertainment segment which is treated the same.) This stuff is considered fluff and the entertainment industry knows and exploits this.

    Reporters will tell you they don't believe a word of these reports but they plop it out there anyway because "who cares, it's only fluff and doesn't really affect anything". Having said that they then treat it with all the gravity that a break in at Ft. Knox or the Bank of England would get.

    Then, of course, the same reporters and organizations wonder why they're about as well believed and trusted as politicians are and almost as loathed while the claim that they are vital to the proper functioning of a free society.

    That last part is true though no one would know it any more as not offending advertisers or chasing them so closely they might as well stick their collective noses up the advertisers tail pipe. Particularly the entertainment industry's tail pipe. I guess it smells better.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2010 @ 9:37am

    Newspapers "believe" entertainment industry numbers because they benefit the newspapers who are , some would say , in the entertainment business too. The newspapers are pushing for more copyright protection for "rights-holders also, so it isn’t completely unforeseeable that the newspapers would swallow the entertainment industry claims

     

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    deadzone (profile), Jul 26th, 2010 @ 10:05am

    Silly-Ness

    We must turn off the Internet - it's the only way to be sure that these heinous, blown out of proportion, made-up claims can be addressed.

    I'm with Nina - the Media and the Entertainment Industry are one and the same basically these days.

     

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    bob, Jul 26th, 2010 @ 10:13am

    ummmm

    Why Does The Press Still Blindly Believe 'Studies' Put Out By The Entertainment Industry?

    Who owns the press?

     

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    crade (profile), Jul 26th, 2010 @ 1:16pm

    I don't get the point of the study, even disregarding the lack of evidentiary support. Torrents are useful for making large files available to the public, so it is obviously going to be often used for infringing movies (which are often large files).. So what?

     

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    cram, Jul 26th, 2010 @ 9:45pm

    People blindly believe any study that supports their worldview, and ultimately their livelihood. Just like Mike believes any study that seems to supports his ideas, even if they are merely conjecture (like the CNN study on possessions being better than experiences).

    The press has a vested interest in protecting the old way of doing things. Nothing surprising here.

     

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      crade (profile), Jul 27th, 2010 @ 8:28am

      Re:

      It's about how you relate your stories. There is nothing wrong with "believing" studies, as long as you don't report them falsely as facts. If Mike says "here is an interesting study on the value of experiences vs possessions, and here is what I think about it", that is fine. If he says "There has been a study that proves that businesses based on selling experiences will make 3.7 times more money than businesses based on selling possessions, when the study really doesn't do that, then that isn't fine (by me at least). Keeping fact and opinion distinctly seperate is important I think for a news source that makes claims of objectivity.

       

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    cram, Jul 26th, 2010 @ 9:46pm

    Sorry, it should read (the CNN study on experiences being better than possessions).

     

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