Australian Government Calls BS On Bogus Copyright Industry 'Losses'

from the about-freakin'-time dept

We’ve spent years complaining about the completely bogus stats put out by the likes of the BSA, the RIAA and MPAA about just how much “piracy” is costing them. These stats usually make a few really bad assumptions, such as the idea that every unauthorized copy is a lost sale. They also fail to take into account any promotional impact of the material. More recently, the MPAA has expanded on the already bogus stats by claiming that they’re even bigger because you need to take into account the ripple effect of the losses through other industries that support the movie industry. Of course, they conveniently ignore that (a) this is double counting and (b) those ripple effects counterbalance themselves by making more money available for other parts of the economy. The most unfortunate part about all these bogus numbers, however, is that they’re continually quoted in the press and by government officials as if they’re factual when they’re highly misleading.

That’s why it’s great to see this following bit of news, submitted by Greg Nelson. Apparently, the Australian government has done its own research into some of these numbers and the draft version of the report has found them to be a bunch of “self-serving hyperbole” that fail to explain clearly how these numbers are anything real. In fact, the report calls the numbers “absurd.” Specifically, they claim the numbers are “unverified and epistemologically unreliable.” They then worry about “the potentially unqualified use of these statistics in courts of law,” which is already pretty common. They also found that, despite repeated claims about a connection, there is no known connection between unauthorized file sharing and organized crime. It’s a bit surprising to see such bold statements out of a government document — and already the agency putting this together says it’s just a draft by a consultant, and suggests that the language will be toned down. In fact, they say that the language in the report is “hyperbolic” which is exactly how the report describes the copyright industry’s claims. Meanwhile, the industry representatives themselves brush off these accusations as if it’s a to-may-to/to-mah-to difference: “They’re entitled to say they’re not convinced, but not necessarily entitled to say it’s unverified.” Of course, he doesn’t say who verified the numbers or how they were really verified.

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Comments on “Australian Government Calls BS On Bogus Copyright Industry 'Losses'”

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Wyndle says:


Will there be LAN gaming as well?

On topic though, how could file-sharing possibly be related to organized crime as implied or stated by the industry? Yeah, there are some organized pirate groups but the common concept of organized crime is the Mafia. The Mafia’s goals are money and power, rules be damned. So how could free file sharing possibly be of interest to the Mafia? Does it help them sell that shipment of stolen iPods?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Are Eyes Finally Being Opened?

yes but then the name(s) of ninjas and robots will come into use

as for it being organized crime – from what I know, not in the US, but it is to a degree in the mid-east and asia. not exactly like Al Capone blowing up bars that dont want his liquor, but I do understand that software pirates openly sell hacked/cracked software right on the street corner.

aside from a new name and organization, I dont doubt that these “authorities” include the excessive legal costs, limo’s and fancy cars they drive to court for these cases, a few million dollars for “margin of error”, etc…

franticfred says:

Microsoft became wildly successful because people


The “I’ll collect every cent for you” mentality is due to the influx of legal and accounting folks into these companies. That influx occurs when companies go into the consolidation of business phases. The accountants and lawyers have to pay for their own costs; however, they really piss off the public in doing so. Countless companies have gone through the same processes; e.g. Datapoint Corp was making money hand over fist until the control freaks showed up and started insisting that all the demo machines extant be accounted for. From then on the slippery slope got steeper.

Piracy isn’t piracy until there is an egregious instance of someone making profits off the appropriation of a company’s “intellectual property”, IMHO. After all, there are no damages until profits can be shown to have been accrued. All other “profits” are assumed, and you know what that means…………….

Angus (user link) says:

BSAA Stats

I interviewed Jim McNamara a while ago and asked him about those stats.

The basic methodology they have used for ages is to measure the number of PCs sold, then extrapolate from that as to how many pieces of ‘standard’ (OS, office, etc) software should have been bought. The difference between that number and actual sales is supposed to represent piracy.

Obviously this methodology is flawed … recent innovations such as free open-source software, re-use of existing licenses from ‘dead’ boxes, self-constructed PCs from parts and possible under/over reporting by software vendors can all lead to weird numbers.

Jim defended this by saying that they had also commissioned anonymous telephone surveys from 3rd parties to ask users whether they had ever pirated software – and the percentages that revealed matched the estimates closely enough that they felt justified in using them, at least as relative measures.

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