Oh Look, UK Piracy Statistics Are Based On Nonsense Too

from the fake-science-makes-the-world-go-round dept

A recent GAO study found claims of piracy’s supposedly-devastating impact on the economy (shockingly) usually aren’t based on real science — despite the fact that such claims (which usually originate from the entertainment or software industries) are repeatedly parroted by government officials. The study also found that there were a few instances where file trading could actually be a good thing — and could actually result in increased product sales. The GAO’s overall conclusion? No government agency actually bothers to track piracy statistics, and instead just regurgitates scary industry claims without question. The study also found that there’s so many moving parts involved — that making broad claims about piracy’s impact on the economy (for better or worse) may not even be possible.

In the UK, the recent Digital Economy Bill was rushed through without any real debate — but with plenty of typical claims of how piracy was going to lead to economic armageddon if the bill wasn’t passed. Just like in the States, the UK government never actually bothered to study whether any of these claims were accurate. If they had, they would have found that — also just like in the United States — the claims weren’t based on real science but on the usual combination of flawed logic (assuming a copy shared naturally equates to a lost sale) and skewed, industry-supplied data. Looking more closely at the most recent reports that most heavily influenced Digital Economy Bill voting found that very little (if any) data originated with independent, scientific studies:

"So the net result of this 68-page report, with all of its tables and detailed methodology, is that four out of the top five markets used for calculating the overall piracy loss in Europe draw on figures supplied by the recording industry itself. Those apparently terrifying new figures detailing the supposed loss of money and jobs due to piracy in Europe turn out to be little more than a *re-statement* of the industry’s previous claims in a slightly different form. As a result, as little credence can be placed in the the report as in those criticized by the US GAO."

Of course none of this surprises anybody who watched the BPI manipulate and massage reality in order to get the bill passed. Meanwhile, the passage of the Digital Economy Bill has file traders heading further underground (where they’ll be harder to track), with anonymous BitTorrent protection services seeing a pronounced spike in new users. While the BPI waits for their pet legislation to kick in, they’ve meanwhile announced that they plan to "reluctantly" return to suing potential customers.

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Comments on “Oh Look, UK Piracy Statistics Are Based On Nonsense Too”

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Wolfy (profile) says:


They plan to reluctantly return to suing potential customers?

How does adding reluctantly help? So, they admit they were going way over the top before, but now they’re experiencing trepidation? I suppose the thousands of innocent people who will be targeted won’t feel angry at all, since the BPI doesn’t actually want to do this at all, they’re just forced to extort money from dead people/pensioners/networked printers etc. for no reason that makes sense.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“there is only one fact: plenty of people have what they dont have the rights too, which is illegal. care to explain that?”

Hell, you’re absolutely right about that one. However, it seems to me that now we’re simply arguing legality as the reason for your displeasure. So I can only assume that if the law that essentially creates copyright out of nowhere were abolished, you’d be all good?

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Why should anyone care if there are no more blockbusters? What we care about is quality movies/music/whatever, and it’s very clear to me that we will always have those. There will always be a way to make a profit producing them. Perhaps not billions in profit, which will reduce budgets put into producing them, but this is a good thing for quality, not bad.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

“when you have to go back hundreds of years to find an example, your argument is very weak.”

The point is that a system without copy privileges was perfectly capable of producing art and such and it did an excellent job. It’s just that evil corporations have managed to unethically control information distribution channels which prevents newer work from being distributed outside the Internet and hence prevents them from prospering. But within the Internet, where such controls aren’t in place (yet) there is plenty of people offering work under CC licenses, licenses designed exactly to circumvent IP laws.

“no way to control distribution”

and that’s what this is about. You want to control distribution so that you can have a monopoly on both the content and the distribution channels, just like you have outside the Internet. This is about control, you want to control everything to your benefit at the expense of everyone else. No thank you.

“no way to make money”

That’s just something you made up.

“then there is nobody going to take the financial risk.”

Yes, that’s why Google took the financial risk of buying Youtube for a billion dollars despite the fact that anyone can copy them. People take risks all the time without the need for IP laws. Sure, it maybe more difficult for people to compete in a free market where anyone can produce content, but so what? This won’t diminish the quality of content, it will only make it better. Instead of one good Blockbuster a whole lot of people watch, you’ll have 1000’s good good movies, better than that one blockbuster, watched by many different people who have different tastes and interests in movies. So it maybe more difficult for one movie to get such a huge audience but that doesn’t mean that no movies will get such a huge audience or that movie quality should even be measured by audience size.

The fact is that the average home videos that people put on facebook are more valuable to most people than movies because they concern the lives of family members and friends and their everyday affairs and whatnot. That’s VALUE, vs some movie with a bunch of strangers. and Hollywood can’t duplicate the value of home videos being distributed everywhere. and guess what? This value competes with Hollywood, it will invariably take peoples time away from being entertained by Hollywood videos and towards being entertained by personal videos made by family and friends. but what’s wrong with that, this should be about the public interest not the interests of Hollywood and the public likes to watch videos and see photos concerning people around them, those that they know more personally.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

first the time of shakespeare was different than today. if you cant figure that out well you missed the game. as for google buying youtube, their risk wasnt 1 billion. they didnt have to stack the money up on the table. their risk was the potential for a small dip in their stock. all of this leading away from the point would you want a world where this is nothing but man hit in crotch videos on youtube? no tv, no series, no big movies, no nothing?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

“first the time of shakespeare was different than today.”

Yes, only because special interest groups have put every effort into ensuring that the public only has access to monopolized content on monopolized information distribution channels (outside the Internet). But you remove that monopoly power and things will be even better for non monopolized content than they were back then thanks to improved information distribution channels and technology. We just need to remove the monopoly power that special interest groups have over those information distribution channels. and special interest groups have huge incentive to make up bogus reasons why such power shouldn’t be removed. So sure, things are different, we have better technology, which means that we can produce better work without IP laws than they did back then.

“would you want a world where this is nothing but man hit in crotch videos on youtube?”

You mean like Funniest home videos that occur on mainstream media? Sure, humor exists on youtube, and it exists on mainstream media, but much much more content exists on youtube (and mainstream media) just as well. and who are you to dictate what the public values to watch or what constitutes high quality content? You think that what you consider to be low quality content should be banned just to prevent it from competing with your definition of high quality content?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

“no tv, no series, no big movies, no nothing?”

and honestly, even if your false scare mongering is true, I could care less. I would much rather have a world with actual freedom than a world where a bunch of tyrant monopolists control everything like the world we live in today. The laws in place are testimony to their control. No, I want them gone completely, I honestly don’t mind losing T.V. shows and such, I don’t even watch that much television to begin with. and if it were up to me they would be jailed too. If history is an indicator of what happens to tyrants things shouldn’t end well for these corporations.

CopyCat says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

While on the subject of weak arguments why do you think it is so important that we legislate to protect the blockbusters? Why not use those resources to further all arts, rather than pouring money into the hands of those producing fastfood entertainment?

Food for thought: “Imagine what our world would look like today if Alexander Flemming had patented penicillin?”

CopyCat says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Maybe if movie stars and recording artists could settle with a slightly lower annual income? But no, you’re right, of course we need laws to ensure that people who can sing and dance and look pretty at the same time get a hundred million dollars for their trouble.

No, piracy is the moral choice, download your movies and music and give the money you save to the red cross.

crade (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Whats to explain? If you believe law dictates morality, then no law should ever be revised or corrected. If you don’t, then your fact is meaningless (in terms of morality).

On the other hand, since what is under discussion is not whether or not laws are inherently perfect, but rather how they should be changed, having a good idea of the amount of damage done by these illegal activities is important when you are trying to correct the law. Assuming your laws are intended to gain the most possible security while sacrificing the least possible freedoms. If you make them based on incorrect information regarding the damage caused by the crime, you could take away far too much freedom and gain little security (possibly even none, depending on how wrong your information is), and your laws could do more harm than good for your people.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

copyright isnt a law specifically about morality, it is about rights to ownership and the rights to control ones creations and products such as books, music, etc. it is about encouraging people to take the time effort and often expense to create new works, with the expectation of some control and potential return for their efforts, so they can maybe do it again. copying violates that part of the deal.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“copying violates that part of the deal.”

What deal? I never agreed to any deal. You mean the one sided “deal” that corrupt lobbyists made congress pass? The deal that the public would never agree to (ie: copy privilege length) had they been more aware of it? No, that’s not a “deal,” it’s a “steal.” It’s flat out theft. I never agreed to this deal, congress did, and I want it repealed. NO DEAL!!! How about this for a deal. No copy privileges and if you don’t like it find another job.

What if society doesn’t want to make such a retarded deal? There will be plenty of artists and musicians without copy privilege laws. and it’s not a right, it’s a privilege that a corrupt government has falsely made on behalf of society. It’s an agreement I, as a citizen, do not agree to and I want my government to undo it. If you don’t like it, find another job. I would much rather you spend your time and effort doing something more productive if you can’t compete in a free market (and I’m not saying that art isn’t productive, just that there are plenty of people who don’t require monopoly rents to create art and the free market is perfectly capable of optimally distributing everyone’s effort according to the most relevant market needs).

mike says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

What don’t I have the right to? You mean I have no right to listen to the songs I enjoyed 50 years ago as a teenager, and which have not been on sale for a very long time?

I have downloaded a lot of music, that I would not have been able to afford to buy because I am now a pensioner – and in the years in which I could have afforded to buy the record companies decided that most of it was out of print, except when they issued “nostalgic LPs that usually contained one or two tracks I liked and a lot of rubbish.

slander (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Good effect of piracy: I get to watch porn and movies, and no kittens were harmed to do so.

Assuming, of course that the kittens were willing participants, and not simply strays brought in off the street with the promise of free cheezburgers, got hooked on catnip and forced into the industry just to get their next fix.

Kitty porn — it hurts all of us…

Roy Baty says:

When slavery was legal, escaped slaves had things (themselves) that were someone’s stolen property. Which was illegal.

Care to explain that?

Legality is not equal to morality. Lobbyist-bought laws and ignorant politicians swayed by industry statistics (or “fairy dust”, we might as well call it) are not “right” simply because they’re on the books.

Anonymous Coward says:

Other than those who may be “posterior retentive” about all of their online activity re P2P, it seems to me much more likely than not that the majority of persons availing themselves of these anonymous services are persons who simply refuse to conform their conduct to that which the law specifies. After all, what is the motivation for paying a subscription if all one is doing is exchanging material already within the public domain?

Roy Baty says:

@20 I get out plenty.

It turns out that the big cartels aren’t the sole producers of content. You know, we have this whole “internet” thing which lets more people create more things, distribute them more widely than ever, and do it for less money than ever.

It’s almost like big companies that don’t actually create anything are irrelevant to the process of creating things.

I’m not the one that needs to get out more. Or stop apologizing for monopolies that desperately want to remain in power.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

“The study also found that there were a few instances where file trading could actually be a good thing — and could actually result in increased product sales.”

So if I read that correctly the IP maximalists are yet again doing something self defeating. They want to yet again annoy the people that actually purchase their product, SSDD. Pretty cool in a self deluded sort of way.
Kind of like the guy that believes fairies make the flowers grow …



wtf they didn’t have nothing it was there owners to do as he/she saw fit, this is why Spartacus rose up and smashed a few roman legions before they got serious about the prob and after that things slowly changed and over time you get fewer and fewer places that have slaves

lest hollywood forget ye shall be doomed to relive



go ahead stop making ovies not like the crap you make now is any good.

go flip burgers.
OH and what ya bet in 5 years cool stuff is getting made only via a more open source like model
as peopel sahre the fun in making with technology insted of you and your kind hampering it.

SUPPRESSION never works
OBAMA would do well to remember his roots of his own culture what they went through to get rights for example but he does not and has forgotten thus he is causing a DOOMED TO RELIVE it to begin



thats cause we have to go back hundreds of years to get free stuff in public domain cause 95 years plus another life of an actor say or whatever means what 150+ years now?

so 2010-150= 1860 = USA public domain unless work has been donated to public domain

Canada with 50years its just beginning the 60’s for real.
and you have lots of art in the past ocnsidered great that DID NOT require copyright and people would copy and addon and make new and that is the mans point.

Shakespeare is FREE and YOU find a human whom hasnt heard of him.

GO right now and do a poll of whom the lead is in Legion the latest crappy film of hollywood.



he means take away the labels and distribution houses and such life will dreg on it may slow for entertainment but we have lots of ebooks and lots of movies and film around now on the interwebs. LIKE OMG what will i do when the power goes out i cant cook without my microwave oven…LOL you need to be rmeoved form the gene pool , i bet you bought an iPAD didn’t ya?

while people splice and make new bits fo rnew films that would hten go freely out and then you can drop those insane movie prices and see if people start returning to a movie theatre.


AND about freedom

ever notice any good shift for human rights most times almost all the time requires VIOLENCE?

are we really going to let the corporations push us so hard we have no choice but to world wide revolt?

ask yourselves that one and remember
i do not have to fight for freedom
freedom is a choice and a right,
it is also a state of being.

YOU can suppress my human rights and i will tell you i am free and it shall anger you(points finger at CEOS everywhere).

you either are free or are not.

Roy Baty says:


You assume that a monopoly (which is all copyright is) is required to make money on a published item, and that’s patently not the case.

Copyright and IP apologists can keep making the claim, but unfortunately it just doesn’t work. A wide range of creators have been able to make “giving it away” profitable, from musicians to authors.

That goes against the naive understanding of how transactions work and what defines “value”, but it’s true. Suffice it to say, smart, savvy creators – you might even call them “innovators” – have found ways to monetize their creations and generate revenue even while giving them away “for free”.

Shocking that economics rewards innovation, I know.

The big content houses are not only increasingly irrelevant, they’re entirely superfluous. Keeping up their stupidity with this war on piracy, which they can only lose, makes them worse than superfluous – it makes them an active threat to innovation and creativity.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

They are a threat to innovation. Every time they get a patent on something, after doing maybe one or a few clinical trials to justify said patent, they prevent others form doing further research on what they have a patent on. This is especially true for pharmaceuticals. It not only harms innovation it can be harmful to peoples health, being that it can prevent the research necessary to ensure a drug is properly understood.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

(and sure, you may argue that research may still be allowed by others, but the point is that whoever has the patent gets a monopoly and they are the ones who unfairly benefit from such research. The rest of society now has less incentive to do research on a patented product because the monopoly reduces the benefit that society gets from research done by non patent holders).

James Smith João Pessoa, Brazil (profile) says:

DRM and Piracy

The entertainment industry is a lot like the military. They are continually preparing to fight the last war.

Instead of recognizing that the paradigm has changed and developing a new business plan that works with it, they are fighting a losing battle against the changes.

That train is leaving the station, the entertainment moguls can either get on board or get off the platform.

Joel (profile) says:


Statistics don’t exist there is only opinions…yeah that’s a fact…wait those don’t exist either…I’m so confused!!

All the numbers are skewed, they only show what each side wants to show to prove their point. There should be an independent study by a third party that has nothing to lose or gain and this third party shouldn’t be commissioned by lobbyists.

iseeknara says:


I bought a lovely lawnmower that is the envy of the street. Being a sociable chap I’m happy to let anyone borrow it, rather than my friends and neighbours having to go out and buy one of their own (which is actually overpriced in all honesty). In the old days we called that community spirit and human kindness.

Am I breaking the law?

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