Copyright Defenders Don't Realize That New 'Fair Use' Report Mocks Their Own Study

from the fair-use-this dept

Last year, we had written about how the CCIA had taken the same methodology used by entertainment industry lobbyists to claim how “big” the “copyright industry” was and applied it to the “fair use” industry, to show that it was actually much bigger than the copyright industry. Both numbers are clearly bogus — which is effectively the point that CCIA was making. The point that is clear, however, is that if you accept the methodology that claims that “copyright” brings $1.52 trillion into the economy, then weaker copyright/exceptions to copyright (such as fair use) bring in $2.2 trillion. Lots of folks have been submitting the news that the CCIA just recently updated the report to show that we’re now talking about $4.7 trillion contributed by the “fair use industries.” Again, this number is bogus — but it’s main point is to show just how silly the copyright lobbyist’s argument that copyright contributes $1.52 trillion to the economy is, because it uses the same methodology — a point recently confirmed by the GAO.

So I have to admit that it’s absolutely hilarious to see Patrick Ross, the head of “The Copyright Alliance” (one of a bunch of lobbying/marketing groups representing the entertainment industry) lash out at this new report, making arguments that apply equally to the $1.52 trillion number he’s famous for touting every chance he gets:

“It is not helpful to policymakers or the public to pronounce sweeping arguments that defy logic,” said Alliance Executive Director Patrick Ross. “In its report, CCIA identifies broad industries, suggests some entities in those industries occasionally engage in what some might call fair use, and then lumps all revenues and jobs in those industries into a newly coined “fair use” industry…”

But, as we’ve noted, that’s exactly the same methodology that was used by the copyright industry to defend the $1.52 trillion number. The methodology is a joke. It identifies broad industries (including things like furniture!), suggests some entities in those industries occasionally engage in what some might call copyright, and then lumps all revenues and jobs in those industries into a newly coined ‘copyright’ industry…

And guess who one of the biggest abusers of this bogus $1.52 trillion number is? You guessed it! It’s Patrick Ross! He tosses the number around like it’s going out of style and is regularly quoted in the press using that number as well.

Apparently, he’s so wrapped up in this issue, he doesn’t quite realize that the whole point of the CCIA report is to use the same methodology to show that if he and those who fund him are going to keep throwing around that $1.52 trillion number, they need to also note that the exceptions to copyright creates an industry that’s even bigger. So I’m curious, Patrick, why is it “not helpful to policymakers” to use this number, when the number you throw out to policymakers all the time uses the same methodology?

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Comments on “Copyright Defenders Don't Realize That New 'Fair Use' Report Mocks Their Own Study”

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21 Comments
Beta says:

know the rules

I think you’re underestimating Ross’s intelligence, and overestimating that of the public. Ross is using bogus statistics because he can, because most of his audience will passively absorb the information and few will check the reasoning. It won’t even occur to most readers that the numbers maybe completely groundless, and many popular news sources still don’t have good feedback mechanisms to allow savvy readers to cry foul. (And the rules for the listening lawmakers are different; with politicians it’s not what they believe, it’s what they believe the voters will believe.)

Now the CCIA is using the same faulty methods to cook up pro-fair-use numbers, and Ross is crying foul, because he can, because the press reports on what he says. The CCIA report should have said plainly on every page that the methods were faulty and the results not meant to be taken seriously, only as an illustration of how meaningless the pro-copyright numbers are. Instead it’s dry and serious, an easy target, something Ross can use to paint pro-fair-use folks as liars and cheats.

It’s not a matter of logic, it’s a matter of ink.

Ryan says:

Re: know the rules

The CCIA report should have said plainly on every page that the methods were faulty and the results not meant to be taken seriously, only as an illustration of how meaningless the pro-copyright numbers are. Instead it’s dry and serious, an easy target, something Ross can use to paint pro-fair-use folks as liars and cheats.

Unless people are quicker to discount the study immediately because it says upfront that it is farcical, without bothering to follow the implications of its satire as they apply to the copyright industry’s number. At least if it’s superficially serious, then the onus is on copyright supporters to explain why it’s wrong by explicitly using logic that applies to their own study as well.

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Re: know the rules

“I think you’re underestimating Ross’s intelligence, and overestimating that of the public. Ross is using bogus statistics because he can, because most of his audience will passively absorb the information and few will check the reasoning. It won’t even occur to most readers that the numbers maybe completely groundless, and many popular news sources still don’t have good feedback mechanisms to allow savvy readers to cry foul. (And the rules for the listening lawmakers are different; with politicians it’s not what they believe, it’s what they believe the voters will believe.)”

I was talking to our local Labour Party political candidate the other day and brought up the issue of fact checking statistics; suffice to say he was not interested. I got the impression that numbers just don’t matter to these people in the same way that they do to those who understand them. It’s got to the point where there needs to be strictly enforced regulations for governments using statistics. At least with ignorance about IT people tend to appreciate the fact they are ignorant.

Pitabred (profile) says:

Because it doesn't fit his agenda

So I’m curious, Patrick, why is it “not helpful to policymakers” to use this number, when the number you throw out to policymakers all the time uses the same methodology?

I really hope that’s a rhetorical question. Because the answer is that the facts don’t match with his agenda, so he wants to discredit them wherever possible.

Anonymous Coward says:

Similarily speaking- Patent Thickets

Rob Pegoraro over at the Washington Post makes an interesting parallel case that pertains to the a patent cross-licensing agreement:

[…]you, the customer, may see the resulting improvements in future smartphones:

* Nothing.

Well, you might pay a little more to cover the legal fees run up by everybody’s intellectual-property lawyers. But that doesn’t count as an “improvement” unless you’re a patent attorney or you happen to sell goods or services to members of the patent bar…

Well said.

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