BSA's Canadian Piracy Numbers Based On Hunches, Not Actual Surveys

from the bogus-stats-as-always dept

For years, we’ve been raising questions about the incredibly bogus stats the BSA puts out every year. There are so many problems with them it’s incredible that the group continues to release them each year… and much worse that the press and politicians quote them as if they’re factual. However, Michael Geist has discovered that they’re even worse than originally thought. In digging deeper into the questionable claims of the report by The Conference Board of Canada that was basically a cut and paste from various industry groups, Geist noticed that the report relied on some BSA data. So he asked for more info on how the BSA determined the “piracy” rate of software in Canada. How many people were surveyed? What was the methodology?

In response, Geist found out that no one in Canada was surveyed, and BSA (and IDC who created the report) simply made an educated guess, assuming the piracy rates weren’t all that different than they were in past years. Yet this hunch, based on no actual data, is being used as a definitive source of piracy numbers in Canada? Even more noteworthy, both the BSA and The Conference Board report use these numbers to support the silly claim that Canada is somehow one of the worst offenders when it comes to supporting “piracy.” But what was the reason for not surveying companies in Canada?

“Countries that are included in the survey portion are chosen to represent the more volatile economies. IDC has found from past research that low piracy countries, generally mature markets, have stable software loads by segment, with yearly variations driven more by segment dynamics (e.g. consumer shipment versus business shipments of PCs) than by load-by-load segment.”

So… just to get this straight. IDC doesn’t bother to survey Canadians about software piracy, because it considers Canada to be a “low piracy” country. So it just makes up the number… and then the BSA, other lobbyists, research groups, the press and politicians (including the US Trade Representative) use these made up numbers to support the claims that Canada is a high piracy country. Doesn’t that seem like fraud?

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Companies: bsa, idc, the conference board

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Comments on “BSA's Canadian Piracy Numbers Based On Hunches, Not Actual Surveys”

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20 Comments
Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Do they think people wont look closer at the numbers or something?”

I welcome the BSA to the Internet. In print there may have been a few thousand readers (a few hundred, a few dozen, a few?), on the Internet there are a few million. The odds of someone who reads the report actually caring enough to fact check raises exponentially.

Marcus Carab (user link) says:

Re: Re:

You are right – but the problem is in the fact that this methodology, by their own admission, only works in “low piracy” countries, and yet has been used to label Canada a “high piracy” country. It’s not just misleading or inaccurate, it’s actually self-contradictory. I’m hardly shocked that the BSA doesn’t follow the rules of good statistics, but I’m at least a tad surprised that they don’t even follow their OWN rules for statistics.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Just because you replace hardware doesn’t mean you replace all the software. Also note many consumers are moving to open source solutions and on-line offerings that directly compete with commercial software we used to buy.

I bought a PC recently and the only commercial software on it the OS and some games I reinstalled after my old PC bit the dust. I use Chrome, Gmail, Google Docs, Open Office, ClamAV, VLC, etc. I didn’t buy software because these days I don’t really need to do so. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one to figure out you can tell M$ to go get stuffed.

Anonymous Coward says:

And piracy rates are related to computer and software sales exactly how? They pulled a number out of their ass somewhere, whether it was the actual piracy number or their estimate based on sales.

Conversation at BSA: “Let’s see there were 1 million computers sold so at least, what, 30% must be pirates? 30% sounds good to you, eh? Sure, run with it, we’ll use that number this year, that’s what 300,000 pirates in Canada?”

mark Rosedale (profile) says:

I wish I could laugh

If the ramifications weren’t so serious and if those people didn’t take it seriously this would be absolutely laughable. I couldn’t have gotten away with research like that in high school much less college and I would be kicked out of school in Grad school. How can such a gross overstatement go unchecked for so long. The worst part about this is that no one will pay attention or change their opinion about this. Sad, truly sad indeed.

Robert A. Rosenberg (profile) says:

Funny Statistics

In response, Geist found out that no one in Canada was surveyed, and BSA (and IDC who created the report) simply made an educated guess, assuming the piracy rates weren’t all that different than they were in past years.

OK. Even if we assume/pretend that that the rate of piracy is stable, where did last year’s (or the year before they stopped measuring it and just did a Cut and Paste of the prior year’s figures) come from?

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