Reminder: Please Help Us Calculate The 'Cost' Of Overprotective Copyright Laws

from the estimation-is-good dept

A quick reminder here. After a Senate-commission report by the US ITC concerning “losses” from China due to intellectual property infringement, we noted that the methodology was ridiculous. The ITC simply went out and asked some of the biggest companies who rely on IP how much they thought they “lost,” and used that to extrapolate a number. In what world is it the appropriate methodology to ask those who would financially benefit the most from greater protectionism to provide accurate data about the need for that protectionism? However, if that methodology is considered credible for the US Senate and the ITC, we figured we might as well use the identical methodology to calculate the “loss” the public has dealt with due to overprotective copyright laws. Of course, unlike the ITC, we actually asked people to “be reasonable.” You can provide your own thoughts in the form below:

The initial response has been fantastic — with many more responses than we expected. On top of that, a wonderfully large percentage of them included detailed, and thoughtful, explanations of their calculations and reasoning. There have been, not surprisingly, a few ridiculous claims (i.e., trillions of dollars) that we’ll be removing from the calculations, because we’re (mostly) serious here about trying to come up with a number. Either way, please spread this around, as the more data we get, the better the results will be. Thanks!

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Comments on “Reminder: Please Help Us Calculate The 'Cost' Of Overprotective Copyright Laws”

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Gumnos (profile) says:

The cost of things not purchased

If the BSA can claim that “if they hadn’t violated copyright, we would have earned $ABSURD_MONEY (even if they would never have purchased it otherwise)”, I guess I can claim that “if copyright hadn’t been ridiculously extended, I wouldn’t have to spend $ABSURD_MONEY on things that would be otherwise free.” So I guess that means that hyperextended copyright has cost me $ABSURD_MONEY. Why don’t we call it a wash and return to the original terms of copyright?

Nicedoggy says:

Can I use stats from another country showing how important sharing and creation of derivative works is to a healthy market?

Miku is a virtual artist, that has more than 30 thousand songs performed by her and she even get to play live thanks to the magic of modern technology.


Fans were invited to breathe life into her, and they have — posting more than 30,000 songs and films featuring the virtual star on video sharing websites such as YouTube and Japan’s Nico Nico Douga.

The creative outpouring has spawned a number of real-world hits, and a compilation of Vocaloid songs featuring Hatsune Miku in May 2010 hit number-one on one Japanese weekly’s album charts.

Using that as a base of what is being lost in cultural terms I would say I lost something in the ballpark of $1.5 million dollars due not to being able to access 150 thousands works not created that would cost $10 bucks each.

Am I not being reasonable?

xenomancer (profile) says:

My Annual "Losses"

In the interest of being funny, because I am almost certain my analysis will be tossed as a humorous outlier, here is how I (hastily) calculated my “losses” over the past year:

I took a rather terse engineering approach to this problem, and assumed that if I were watching movies during 100% of my downtime, that I would be losing equivalent work pay and gaining equivalent MPAA earnings from the cultural impact of the movies. Thus, I removed sleep and work hours from a full year’s worth of hours and came up with this simple formula:

((365.25 days / year) * (24 hours / day – 8 hours sleep / day) – (50 weeks work / year) * (5 days work / week) * (8 hour work / day)) * (($105,664/year [chem. eng., 1]) / ((50 weeks work / year) * (5 days work / week) * (8 hours work / day)) – ($10,455,147,898/year [2010 box office gross, 2]) / (667 movies / year) / (2 hours / movie)) = -$30,126,924,739.81

Notice the sign…

Taking into consideration I have a terrible case of insomnia (which is true), I have to remove the equivalent number of hours on average. Since I only sleep every 2 or three days, that is a total of three nights per week on average that those 8 hours will be over-estimated to exist; which substantially impacts the tota value I am missing out on! See for yourself:

((365.25 days / year) * (24 hours / day – (3 / 7) * 8 hours sleep / day) – (50 weeks work / year) * (5 days work / week) * (8 hour work / day)) * (($105,664/year [chem. eng., 1]) / ((50 weeks work / year) * (5 days work / week) * (8 hours work / day)) – ($10,455,147,898/year [2010 box office gross, 2]) / (667 movies / year) / (2 hours / movie)) = -$43,213,125,734.27

So I am being seriously shafted here even with work pay factored in, and I was generous!!!!!

Also, here are the sources I forgot to list in the submission:

*I may have fudged the division by 2 for hours per movie, but its still perfectly within the ridiculous MPAA method of determining “losses” due to “piracy.”
**To perform the calculation yourself, remove all the units and it should be a straight forward scientific calculator nightmare.
***This formula assumes no music was listened to, nor any music value was consumed during the movies, nor any additional value from the works licensed to the studio by their IP paranoia department, nor any other extraneous factors aside my insomnia, just the movies were counted based on average earnings.

Ron Rezendes (profile) says:

Re: My Annual "Losses"

“*I may have fudged the division by 2 for hours per movie, but its still perfectly within the ridiculous MPAA method of determining “losses” due to “piracy.”

Actually since you can’t get past the piracy warnings and what not it probably turns out to be about 2hrs each unless you watch any of the Lord of the Rings movies!

Anonymous Coward says:

DRM is saving me a fortune!

DRM is saving me a fortune! After being burned repeatedly in 2006, I gave up and now I pirate everything. On the off chance I actually need to buy a CD or DVD or piece of software, I have all the free DRM circumvention tools you can name. They were all free.

It has saved me a fortune on buying things and I’ve saved even more money on shelf space. This is also good for the environment as my shelves were wooden, thus no more trees need to be felled for my collection to be stored.

Oh, you mean how much has DRM cost me in terms of culture? Well, I was buying some Jazz CD’s filled with Public Domain recordings from Naxos allowing me to hear 1930’s jazz I had never heard before until our copyright law got extended in 2006 and now I can’t get them anymore….. Not legally anyway.

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