by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jun 30th 2010 8:34am
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jun 9th 2010 4:42pm
Debunking The Ridiculous Claims That Unauthorized Copies Of Handheld Games Has 'Cost' The Economy $41.6 Billion
from the reality-check dept
- Every infringing download is counted as a lost sale
- CESA took the numbers for Japanese handheld game piracy and multiplied it by four to get the worldwide numbers, because CESA "believes" Japan represents 1/4 of the market
- Deviations in piracy levels in different world regions were not taken into account
- Pricing for games per unauthorized copies were ALL based on the initial release price, not taking into account pricing fluctuations of games over time
by Mike Masnick
Wed, May 12th 2010 8:56am
from the bsa-from-the-bsa dept
We've been covering these bogus stat reports for many years, providing a detailed look at how misleading the stats are, and pointing out how many in the press simply parrot the numbers without question. Two years ago, a VP at the BSA (who's now working at the Justice Department, of course) was kind enough to call me to try to explain the BSA's numbers (along with a PR person and a representative from IDC). When I challenged them on the whole "one copy equals one sale thing" they insisted that their numbers showed such a claim was accurate.
Thankfully, in the past few years, more and more in the press have started to sound skeptical of the BSA's numbers -- but it's still a minority. Last year, the BSA did a neat trick in getting some publications to run stories about the numbers, while then saying don't pay attention to the numbers as a way of fending off anyone who criticizes how incredibly misleading the numbers are.
This year, you would think the press would be extra skeptical, given that just a few weeks ago, the GAO report pointed out that these stats are totally baseless (and yes, the BSA was one of the reports they criticized). But, looking through the press coverage, most seem to be just reporting the ridiculous claims such as "$50 billion" in "losses" due to file sharing. Lots of the reports focus on "local" findings -- with local publications just covering the claims in that local country (for example, coverage in Malaysia, China, the Persian Gulf, the UK, Korea, India, Canada, etc.). Of course, in the past, even those numbers have been called into question. Last year, after people took a more detailed look at how "piracy" stats were counted in Canada, it came out that the findings were based on pure guesses. No one in Canada was surveyed. They just made up the data.
So, really, you would think that the mainstream press would at least put up some semblance of skepticism in seeing these same bogus numbers released yet again, with no serious changes to the methodology. But, for the most part the reports just repeat the BSA's talking points. Looking through the press reports, it's tough to find coverage that expresses any skepticism at all. They just repeat the numbers -- the same numbers the US government just said were bunk -- as if they were pure fact. Just a sampling: the AFP, the BBC, ComputerWeekly, Computerworld, the UK Press Association, Network World, eWeek and many, many others.
Business Week gets credit for being one of the very, very few sources that at least mentions the GAO's findings, though it does so in one sentence at the very bottom of the article. The National Journal also mentions the GAO report -- though neither seemed to ask (or get any responses from the BSA) to this rather crucial point. ITWire, at the very least, points out that the study is basically made up, noting that:
"estimates of piracy rates are based mostly on inferences and the 'gut feeling' of the BSA's research organisation IDC;But that's about all I could find. For the most part, the press -- the one's we're told are supposed to be asking all the "tough" questions, simply reposted the BSA's press release as fact. You would think that, given that this report has come out every year for the past seven years -- and the methodology has been debunked widely time and time again -- this year by the US government -- and that the report itself admits that many of the numbers are based on hunches and guesses, that the press would stop reporting them as fact. Wishful thinking, I guess.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Mar 22nd 2010 8:40am
from the evidence-please? dept
A year in the making, the coalition to fight film piracy in India will work with movie theaters to crack down on camcorder piracy -- the source of 90 percent of all pirated DVDs -- with police to tighten enforcement, with Internet service providers to fight Internet piracy and with politicians to create more effective laws.With these big professional reporters, you might think they would try to fact check a claim like "90% of all "pirated" DVDs come from camcorded movies." They might have trouble doing that, because the actual research suggests something quite different. A study that we wrote about a few years ago found otherwise. Specifically, it found that "77% appear to have been leaked originally by industry insiders."
But, of course, we need to save the AP, because they do real fact checking, right?
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Nov 18th 2009 11:15am
We See Your 'Copyright Contributes $1.5 Trillion' And Raise You 'Fair Use Contributes $2.2 Trillion'
from the pointless-numbers dept
In response, Ed Black, from the Computer & Communications Industry Association wrote a letter to the editor highlighting those lawyers factual mistakes as well as the importance of fair use throughout the industry (thanks to Yano for sending this in). Most of the (short) letter discusses all the wonderful things that fair use allows, and then has this wonderful line at the end:
Businesses dependent upon exceptions to copyright contribute $2.2 trillion to the U.S. economy. They are responsible for one in eight jobs, for a total payroll of $1.2 trillion in 2006. Fair use is serious business; it is the glue that holds the Internet and new technology together. It is worth protecting.This is fantastic. Of course, the number is just as bogus as the $1.52 trillion used by copyright maximalists, but I think that if they're going to use their methodology to make such ridiculous claims, it's only fair to do the same for the contributions to the economy of exceptions to copyright, and as the CCIA clearly demonstrates, the businesses that rely on weaker copyright contribute significantly more to the economy than those that rely on copyright. Thus, by the copyright maximalists own logic (and numbers), shouldn't we be fighting to expand the exceptions to copyright law?
from the it-ain't-that-many dept
Many Western technology companies have heeded that call, but have found themselves cast onto the rocks of Chinese shores including companies like Microsoft, Google, Cisco, eBay, and Yahoo! The massive markets just never seem to have materialized in the Orient for these giants, or when success has loomed on the horizon the murky Chinese bureaucracy has stepped in to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Partnerships have vaporized overnight, and (particularly in the case of Cisco) core Intellectual Property has been outright stolen, reverse-engineered, or redistributed. Perilous waters, indeed.
So it was with this skepticism that my friend Gersham viewed the latest piece of propaganda emerging from our friends in China that we have now reached the new height of 338 million Chinese Internet users; a 13 percent increase since the end of 2008, and just about exactly one quarter of the country's population. All of this, of course, seems to have been tabulated and distributed by the slightly inaccurately-acronymed Chinese Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC) which, by its own admission,takes orders from the Ministry of Information Industry (MII) to conduct daily business. In fact, google Chinese Internet Traffic and you'd be hard-pressed to find data that did NOT originate from the CNNIC. Hmm. Call me a cynic.
It is likely difficult for most (any) of us to corroborate or even conceptualize these high numbers, but it seems suspicious nonetheless, particularly from a country whose median income is around $3400 and whose Per-Capita GDP is ranked 104th, right behind Armenia. In trying to substantiate this, once can point to Alexa's site rankings which currently reveal that 3 Chinese-language web sites rank in the Top 20: Search Engine Baidu (#9), IM chat and portal QQ (#14), and portal Sina.com.cn (#18). Sounds good, right? But look closely at the rankings. Baidu, an undisputed leader in Search for China, reaches 5.73% of the internet populace, whereas Google.DE (#13) reaches roughly 3% of global internet users while servicing German, Swiss and Austrian users exclusively. Combine the populations of these three countries and they don't even add up to 100 million people.
Gersham pointed me toward the Firefox Download Stats, where, as of this writing, Germans have made 4,948,666 downloads of various Firefox versions compared to only 672,972 for China. Again, Germany has a population of 82Million vs. 1.3Billion in China. As a control, Americans have downloaded Firefox 7,959,727 times as of this writing. Do the Chinese really just prefer Internet Explorer?
In January 2009, Comscore measured the Chinese internet audience at closer to 180 Million users, still an impressive 18% of the Internet population. This site quotes murky Nielsen Online data pegging Chinese Internet Users at roughly 300 Million. Beyond these hearsay reports, empirical measurements are difficult to come by.
So, let’s throw up our hands and try to reverse-engineer the data using published stats. According to June 2009 data from Comscore, Google has captured 65% or so of US Search Traffic. This made it the #1 web site in the world, with 157 Million US Visitors in June, according to Comscore. In the Chinese Market, Baidu has captured 73% of Chinese search, with Google in the Number Two spot. Yet Baidu.com barely moves the needle by comparison, according to compete.com, alexa.com, and others, hitting roughly 600,000 unique visitors per month globally. High-side estimates of the Internet's penetration in the US peg it at 72.5% of the populace, or about 220 million. This makes the data on Google's penetration vs the addressable market reasonably accurate (71% if you do the math). Following this logic, if Baidu in fact has 73% of China's purported 338 Million users, it should be ranking as the #1 web site by far, with 246 Million unique visitors per month. In fact if any of this data were true, then Chinese sites should occupy at least 4 of the Top Ten global web sites.
Whatever your opinion of Compete's and Alexa's relative methodologies, it's impossible to reconcile anything even close to the numbers coming from the Chinese Government. If that isn't good enough for you, let's turn to profits. While serving what was allegedly the world's largest internet audience, Baidu appears to be tracking to earn about $500 Million in revenue this year. Google's revenue appears to be tracking to about $23 Billion for 2009 with its pithy 157 Million unique visitors. Any way you slice it, if China's internet userbase is as large as Beijing says it is, and if Baidu's market share of that audience is what it's widely purported to be, then both the number of uniques reported by external traffic sites and the revenues reported by the public company that owns Baidu should be exponentially greater.
These stats seem to either indicate that Chinese do not use search very often, or that there just aren't too many of them heading out into the wilds of the Internet. Either way, statistics emanating exclusively from bureaucratic sources within Beijing, particularly those which seem to fly in the face of all other external metrics, are not to be believed. The thesis of this post is not to suggest that China is NOT a massive opportunity for online properties and other technology purveyors, it is simply an attempt to point out that, like in a lot of cases in dealing with the People's Republic of China, things are not what they may seem. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.Cross-posted from IanBell.com.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jul 21st 2009 4:34pm
from the this-is-depressing dept
Unfortunately, the report has many, many problems. It mistakenly assumes that anything covered by copyright (i.e., any sort of creative output) is created solely because of copyright. Plenty of content/software/etc. is not created because of copyright -- but this study assumes that it is and that it needs to be protected -- even though for much of it, that's unlikely to be true. That leads to a very distorted picture, because it makes you automatically think that granting more copyright is better, even if much of that output would have been done anyway -- and even if there would have been more output without copyright. It falsely assumes that the production is because of copyright, rather than just covered by copyright.
But, with such bogus stats -- and gullible gov't officials -- it's easy to push for more protectionism and stronger copyright laws as being necessary to "protect" these industries. The industry officials went on and on at the get together, falsely blaming "piracy" for the music industry's troubles -- ignoring that real studies (i.e., not lobbyist-backed ones) are telling quite a different story. The overall industry is actually thriving -- in part because of the better ability to distribute and promote content and software at greatly diminished costs (often free). Ignoring these benefits, and treating them all as harm is a huge mistake.
But, it's these lobbyists and their bogus numbers that have the ears of our elected officials. What a shame. No one was invited to suggest the countering viewpoint or to show why the industry's numbers were clearly false. No one was there to discuss how stronger copyright actually harms creative output, and to show how these very industries have repeatedly fought against and shut down innovations that could have helped the economy. No one was there to question why politicians would simply accept industry-financed studies. And, no reporters seemed to have asked these questions, either. It's just politics and business as usual.
from the 9-out-of-10-people-disagree dept
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Jun 4th 2009 6:06pm