ACTAfacts? ACTAfiction? Or Just Unsourced Pro-ACTA Propaganda Purporting To Be Objective?

from the take-your-pick dept

actafacts.com, a new pro-ACTA website, made the rounds earlier this month, along with a new report claiming ACTA would create billions of euros in growth and hundreds of thousands of new jobs. Glyn Moody was quick to pull the facts apart. FSF called it "3rd-rate astroturfing" and EDRI suspected "parody." This week actafacts.com resurfaced on fliers at the European Parliament and on the entrance door to the EU Trade committee, prior to an important vote on whether to recommend the European Parliament to reject or accept ACTA on July 4th. The flyer, displaying a majestic container ship plowing through a quiet sea, was as clear in its advocacy -- "A vote against ACTA would be a vote against Europe's economy. Get the facts at actafacts.com" -- as it was unclear about its origins (potentially violating EU rules). Oh, and the container ship image? Yeah, it's infringing according to Jeremie Zimmermann. This, and other last-minute-lobbying-attempts, seem to have had little impact. The trade committee voted down ACTA. However, it's interesting to analyze who's actually behind this now that the monster has reared it's head.

The registration info of actafacts.com is anonymized, but the the HTML source of the page points, rather clumsily, to the c: drive of a Mr. Jeff Hardy.

Jeff Hardy happens to be director of BASCAP, Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy, which is a subdivision of the International Chamber of Commerce. The ICC describes itself as "the voice of world business," and is an immensely powerful lobbying group, promoting the specific interests of large member companies.

It's no surprise that American pro-ACTA lobbyists would pull thinly veiled stunts like these, though one would expect them to be able to hire better web designers (and check the HTML code for origin clues). What IS surprising is that the European Commission treats the group's "facts" as such.

One of the problems with the astronomical figures Trade Commissioner De Gucht has been using in defense of ACTA, is that they cover both supposed losses due to counterfeiting of tangible (physical) goods, and non-tangibles, ie. digital / Internet piracy all conflated together. While he can lean on credible, reasonably well-sourced numbers on physical counterfeiting from the OECD, there are none on Internet piracy. That's because, as OECD economist Danny Scorpecci explained to me, the data is simply too unreliable; too many factors need to be considered.  

So, I repeatedly asked De Gucht's office to provide numbers backing the claim that internet piracy hurts the EU economy, and causes job losses in the creative sector. His team returned with one report: Building a Digital Economy: The Importance of Saving Jobs in the EU's Creative Industries from TERA consultants, commissioned by -- you guessed it -- BASCAP, Jeff Hardy's team. The report "predicts losses due to [digital] piracy to reach as much as 1.2 million jobs and €240 billion in retail revenue by 2015 (...) assuming no significant policy changes." I asked whether the commissioner had taken into account the clearly biased and, according to the SSRC, misrepresentative nature of the report's claims.

John Clancy, EU Trade Spokesperson, rejected that criticism offhand, without actually responding to it: "such analysis does not suddenly make the report invalid and the information contained in it unfounded". Well, that depends. Joe Karaganis of the Social Science Research Council dismissed the TERA report entirely because of its use of "a methodology developed by Stephen Siwek in a series of papers commissioned by the MPA, RIAA, and ESA [aiming to] expand the debate about piracy beyond claims of losses to specific industries to losses to national economies, including especially lost jobs". Karaganis argues that the contrary may well be the case, and that the EU may well "realize a strong net welfare benefit from audiovisual and software piracy" because money is spent elsewhere, not lost, and because the supposed job losses would happen in the US, thus affecting the trade balance positively for the EU. Siwek's analysis does not even take into account this possibility.

When I spoke to Jeff Hardy in April about the report he defended the methodology and the use of Stephen Siwek as an advisor: "Our mission is to paint a picture with numbers. We try to be conservative, even though the numbers are gigantic. This is an illegal business. This is black market. We don't have all the numbers, but someone has to step up. We need to have an understanding of the magnitude of the problem, that this is a real, economic loss." And, apparently, the way to do so is not to address the facts, but to just make up numbers.

Hardy told me that the ICC hired TERA after their HADOPI report, which concluded that France would lose 10,000 jobs in the creative industry by 2012 unless France adopted the "3 strikes" law. This report uses the same methodology, dubbed "copyright math" by Rob Reid in his $8 billion iPod TED Talk. So, why, when everyone else -- even the US Government -- admits these inflated piracy numbers are bogus, does the EU Commission keep repeating them? This must be a successful turn of events, I asked Jeff Hardy? "Well, assuming our number is big enough, it's successful", he replied.

Yes, that's right, in a refreshing moment of candor, Hardy appears to be admitting that all he cared about was making sure the number was "big enough," not particularly "accurate." That seems like a "fact" worth keeping in mind when you judge these "actafacts."



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Androgynous Cowherd, Jun 29th, 2012 @ 12:13am

    No, not "suddenly" unfounded.

    John Clancy, EU Trade Spokesperson, rejected that criticism offhand, without actually responding to it: "such analysis does not suddenly make the report invalid and the information contained in it unfounded".


    No, it doesn't suddenly make the report invalid and its information unfounded. Instead, it proves that it was invalid and unfounded all along.

     

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      The eejit (profile), Jun 29th, 2012 @ 12:17am

      Re: No, not "suddenly" unfounded.

      no, what it does, however, is show that an element of the US economy wants to defraud Europeans of their laws. and obtain monies by deception.

      So, remind me again who the criminals are?

       

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Jun 29th, 2012 @ 5:29am

        Re: Re: No, not "suddenly" unfounded.

        I'm... not sure how you draw that conclusion using the ICC and an EU Trade Spokesman's comment...

         

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  •  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 29th, 2012 @ 12:15am

    "but the the HTML source of the page points, rather clumsily, to the c: drive of a Mr. Jeff Hardy."

    Well there goes what's left of their credibility.

    PROTIP: If your site's source code links to your C: drive, you should be permanently disqualified from regulating the Internet.

     

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    surfer (profile), Jun 29th, 2012 @ 12:33am

    actafacts rhymes with asshats

     

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  •  
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    [citation needed or GTFO], Jun 29th, 2012 @ 12:42am

    Jeff Hardy?!

    When did the wrestler get into politics? Did he do a Jesse Ventura?

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 29th, 2012 @ 1:15am

    There are no problems in the source of the report. The EU Trade spokesman is completely right on that part.

    However, if you relayed the information on the methodology directly, it is a problem.

     

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    Keii (profile), Jun 29th, 2012 @ 1:18am

    Why are there no legal repercussions for blatantly lying to get your legislation passed? Why is there no fact checking done before something that affects every American is passed? Why aren't these people being publicly exposed as frauds?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 29th, 2012 @ 3:44am

      Re:

      Because the USTR won't let anyone even check the facts, not even congres-members. Non-scrutiny by obscurity.

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 29th, 2012 @ 1:42am

    Sigh... as if it wasn't already hard to take these people seriously... So they hate the tech crowd so much that it never occurs to them to hire somebody with a knowledge of HTML?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 29th, 2012 @ 1:55am

      Re:

      ...although I guess they didn't care. The page was created in DreamWeaver, which doesn't require HTML knowledge. (And which also means they probably hate free software as well.)

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 29th, 2012 @ 3:43am

        Re: Re:

        They are too cheap to pay a real http artist to design their page for them? Why am I not surprised, and will no one think of the http artists?

         

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      •  
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        Leigh Beadon (profile), Jun 29th, 2012 @ 6:36am

        Re: Re:

        Hey man, don't diss DreamWeaver! That thing is a powerhouse! Where coders and even other wysiwyg apps would use only a piddling one or two lines of boring clean markup, DreamWeaver can pump out 7 or 8 lines full of empty tags and inline CSS!

         

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        •  
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          Ninja (profile), Jun 29th, 2012 @ 7:17am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Don't make fun of DW =((((

          It helps technology morons like me to make web pages =/

          Okay, I'm not that bad but my html skills still suck =(

           

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          •  
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, Jun 29th, 2012 @ 7:40am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            So you admit to be a technology moron for using DW? See my point now? You're okay, since you probably don't use it for setting up a page about an agreement that involves, among other things, technology.

             

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              Ninja (profile), Jun 29th, 2012 @ 7:54am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Actually I never used DW. I used something worse than that like 12 years ago to make a page for some shady alternative to geocities. It was called FrontPage from M$ (does it still exist?). Nowadays I just use default templates if I need to make a page or hire some web designer more capable than me. Simple HTML tags in comment sections is the best I'll do otherwise lmao

              But I do agree with you. Gonna quote it just in case:

              You're okay, since you probably don't use it for setting up a page about an agreement that involves, among other things, technology.

              What's both amusing and sad is that even more clueless ppl are actually responsible for legislating over technology. And signing such agreements (ie: ACTA).

               

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          •  
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            Leigh Beadon (profile), Jun 29th, 2012 @ 8:39am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            DreamWeaver is actually a reasonable learning tool in some ways. It's advisable to work in split-screen mode, and try whenever you can to make your changes in the code rather than in the wysiwyg panel --- then, slowly, transition from that to just developing with two apps open: a syntax-highlighting text editor like TextWrangler, and a browser window previewing the site. That, plus reading some other tutorials and articles, can make you fairly competent in html/css quite quickly

             

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            •  
              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, Jun 29th, 2012 @ 9:25am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Indeed - if you want to become fairly competent. Which I'm sure wasn't the purpose of creating that page...

               

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        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Jun 29th, 2012 @ 8:55am

          Re: Re: Re:

          But think of the http artists. Many only make in the mid thirty thousands each year. Do you think it's ethical to have a webpage without contributing to the http artists?

          Many http artists once dreamed of being http rockstars. Will no one think of the artists?

          You wouldn't steal an http snippet would you?

           

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 29th, 2012 @ 1:57am

    but, yet again, these are the figures that will be promoted time after time. these are the figures that will be used, time after time. these are the figures that will be believed, time after time. most importantly, these are the figures that will be used to screw citizens over by implementing new, unneeded laws, time after time!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 29th, 2012 @ 2:19am

    dont know about anyone else but i haven't read a single true fact that has come from any of the ACTA proponent bodies. it's a typical entertainment industries ploy. lie to the point where people say, 'jeez, that's so far fetched, it has to be true', then expand on it further and watch politicians fall for it every time

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 29th, 2012 @ 2:37am

    How many times has that site been hacked so far? Considering that bit about the source code, I'm guessing at least three times.

     

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    xenomancer (profile), Jun 29th, 2012 @ 2:46am

    Like Cat Facts

    "such analysis does not suddenly make the report invalid and the information contained in it unfounded"
    One does not simply unsubscribe from actafacts.com
    Hardy appears to be admitting that all he cared about was making sure the number was "big enough," not particularly "accurate."
    Hell, at least when I come up with large numbers (like here and here and here) I'm clear on methodology and how little to think of them.

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jun 29th, 2012 @ 9:52am

      Re: Like Cat Facts

      While, their figures are imaginary and have no basis in reality, I am reasonably sure that when he said if the number was "big enough" he meant if the number they came up with was not less than the real losses. He may just be a true believer.

       

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  •  
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    freeinternet777 (profile), Jun 29th, 2012 @ 2:49am

    AFACT

    Spare me...afact is monopolists and censures way of saying "let's keep the status quo". Sopa, Pipa, Afact, Tppa all these emerged recently about the same time the internet was really really hooking us all up together...it is a desperate attempt to maintain not profits, but control over what they have enjoyed for years and, as well, it must be seductive to these people to control the internet as well, into the future. If they can put us back in our consuming, blind, day to day place for years to come, all the better...but to have us talking amoungst ourselves, sharing ideas, opinions and generally just being completely out of control, must be daunting to them and must be stomped out asap.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      PopeyeLePoteaux, Jun 29th, 2012 @ 3:00am

      Re: AFACT

      I think the copyright cartels just don't want the gatekeepers.

      Hell, an ideal world to the MAFIAA and IP cartels could be a world with no internet at all, so they can go back to the 80's, sitting on mountains of money and cocaine and hookers while they suck the blood from artists and lighting cigars with $100 bills.

       

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 29th, 2012 @ 3:41am

    actaspin.com would have been better...

     

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    freeinternet777 (profile), Jun 29th, 2012 @ 3:59am

    And what really interests me in this argument? It's coming down to "what's more important?" Intellectual Property rights or Human Rights? No, no, you cant say they are both important, we know this. THis is where you choose one over the other. This is it. Laws, Agreements, Treaties, are being passed already that look after IP. Gallo said this week that anyone who is anti-Acta is a terrorist. A terrorist!

     

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    freeinternet777 (profile), Jun 29th, 2012 @ 4:00am

    Good, I hope he is terrorfied

     

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    freeinternet777 (profile), Jun 29th, 2012 @ 4:04am

    Doh, I meant "she"

     

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    ECA (profile), Jun 29th, 2012 @ 4:30am

    Lets see..

    So a Club/DJ/..
    Pirates abit of music..
    PLAYS it many locations..
    HOW MANY JOBS created by the USE, of said music?
    HOW many people are introduced to NEW MUSIC??
    HOW many will goto a CONCERT and pay MORE money to see the groups?
    HOW many more jobs, BECAUSE the group NOW has a larger fan base. from pirated music.
    HOW many DVD sales from the concert.
    HOW much does a NEW band, NOT belonging to a CORP, make in Concerts and DVD sales, OVER belonging to a CORP..

    WHO does the radio company call to get an OK, to play their music? LOOK at the DVD and find a phone number. and DONT PAY 4-6 OTHER CORPS..

    World WIDE, I can see 1 million people loosing jobs, IN THE CORPS..

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jun 29th, 2012 @ 6:45am

      Re: Lets see..

      HOW many words can i NEEDLESSLY Capitalize.
      I THINk soMEThing IS wrong WITh mY cAPS lock KEY.
      Spaces lots of extra spaces.
      Sometimes PERIOds.
      SomeTIMES two..
      How stupid do people think I am THE MOMENT they see my post?

      Very..

       

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  •  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Jun 29th, 2012 @ 4:42am

    from the web page

    to funny ...

    file:///C|/Users/Jeff%20Hardy/Documents/4-websites/CCAPCongress/home/tn_new_o.gif','file:///C |/Users/hardyj/Documents/4-

     

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    Kyle Reynolds Conway (profile), Jun 29th, 2012 @ 6:15am

    Oh, and the container ship image? Yeah, it's infringing

    One wonders if they must use infringing material to masquerade under the aesthetic of a true, grassroots, internet-based assembly of citizens. ... Perhaps they should contemplate that for a moment.

     

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    Ninja (profile), Jun 29th, 2012 @ 7:47am

    Let us do some math here.

    WARNING: COPYRIGHT MATH AHEAD

    When you download a song the following things happen, according to the MAFIAA:

    - You will never ever buy the physical album (-$10)
    - You will never buy the mp3 even though you can technically rip from the CD because law says u can't (-$5 per album)
    - You'll never buy the "Best Hits" album released every once in a while (-$10) and the mp3 (-$5)
    - You'll never go to live shows (-$100)
    -You'll never buy artist merchandise (-$200)
    - A terrorist will be born
    - A child will be raped raped by pedophile pirates

    That gives us $330 loss per downloaded song (along with intangible values for the last 2 items).

    TPB is home of 22.557.468 seeders + 6.866.056 leechers and 4.070.189 torrents. So it goes for:

    330*(22.557.468+6.866.056)*4.070.189=3,952057022959188e+16

    And voilá, we have approximately 4 .... xyzillion, quadrillion dollars lost on TPB alone! Whatever it means.

    Also don't forget to add the few trillion dollars spent on recent wars against terrorism supportive nations the US spent. Not that it will make any difference in a number with 16 zeros and no decimals.

    More details found at actafacts.com =)

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jun 29th, 2012 @ 9:01am

      Re:

      You forgot that a kitten will be murdered and baby Jesus will cry. Will no one think of the kittens and baby Jesus?


      You wouldn't steal baby Jesus's crib would you?

       

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  •  
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    lili (profile), Jul 2nd, 2012 @ 2:36am

    Digital portable mobile X-Ray machine

    Faible quantité de rayonnement, les patients et le personnel des garanties exagère de l'exposition aux rayonnements, appelé "Green" machine à rayons X
    dental handpieces
    Dental Equipment For Sale
    No special guards are needed for both doctor and patient, no need for dark room either

     

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


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