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UK Copyright Industries Suddenly Become Fans Of Evidence-Based Policy Making

from the pot,-kettle,-black dept

Building on the solid work of the Hargreaves Report on copyright, the UK government took a surprisingly sensible attitude in its proposed implementation of most of Hargreaves’ suggestions. The consultation period for those proposals ends shortly, and the panic among the copyright industries that the UK government might actually make copyright slightly less biased in their favor is evident. Here’s a Daily Telegraph piece where they try to undermine the economic rationale behind the moves, professing scepticism about UK government claims that modernizing copyright will add billions to the UK economy:

UK Music, the music industry body, said the growth projection was “based upon underlying assumptions and extrapolations that are facile and deeply flawed”.

Its chief executive, Jo Dipple, called on the Government to “re-examine the evidence”.

“Re-examine the evidence” is precisely what the Hargreaves team did when it explored to what extent digital piracy was causing harm to the copyright industries. Here’s what it found:

The Review team has examined numerous studies, including those in the table above, and a supporting paper looks at the methodological strengths and weaknesses of this work. With the exception of the Industry Canada study, we have either not been able to examine the methodology of the studies or, where we have, we have discovered problems with the methodology. Consequently, we have not found either a figure for the prevalence and impact of piracy worldwide or for the UK in which we can place our confidence.

In other words, bar one report, there was no reliable evidence, despite the fact that the copyright industries have been claiming the contrary for years, and using those claims to push for harsher laws against online copyright infringement.

A typical case is the TERA report that came out in March 2010. As I have shown elsewhere, its headline result that piracy in the EU was likely to cause losses of 1.2 million jobs and 240 billion euros ($325 billion) by 2015 was based almost entirely on figures supplied by the recording industry — in other words, of no value as independent evidence. And yet its “assumptions and extrapolations” were widely used in the debate running up to the vote in April 2010 that saw the passing of the UK’s Digital Economy Act.

Also quoted in The Telegraph piece is Pete Wishart, an MP and a musician chiefly associated with the folk-rock band Runrig. Commenting on the UK government’s projections, he said:

“How the Government has got away with such bonkers figures is beyond me.”

The real issue is how the copyright industries got away with its bonkers figures, and for so long. Let’s hope their new-found love for evidence-based policy making doesn’t vanish when the facts turn out to be very different.

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Comments on “UK Copyright Industries Suddenly Become Fans Of Evidence-Based Policy Making”

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23 Comments
MonkeyFracasJr (profile) says:

Re: Mickey Mouse

I think there should be a difference between characters and content “actively used” and those that are only help for the purpose of preventing other from using them. Of course them we fall in to the pit of holder trotting out remakes and remixes every so often to claim they are actively used. This does not qualify as “active use” by my standards.

Additionally there should be different standards between retelling a story or using characters in new ways vs. simply doing a verbatim copy. Copying Homer’s Odyssey and telling it as he told it is just copying (even if it is a wonderful performance), But re-telling the story as was done with “O’ Brother Where Art Thou” is using stories and characters in new ways.

In today’s world Homer would have sued The Coen Brothers, Touchstone and Disney Studios in to the ground over infringement claims.

Prisoner 201 says:

“…we have either not been able to examine the methodology of the studies or, where we have, we have discovered problems with the methodology.”

It makes me sick to my stomach that laws that greatly impact people’s rights and freedoms are being based on what amounts to hearsay.

It’s like legislating about national curfew, because you know, the boogeyman. We have to think of the children!

blakey says:

the SNP only agree on one policy sadly

my SNP MEP, Alyn Smith, has replied to a few of my emails about ACTA and seems to be siding with the Greens and Pirate Party: ‘Please rest assured that Alyn’s group in the European Parliament, the Greens/European Free Alliance, have been very active on this matter and their opposition to ACTA’

Sadly the SNP only agree on one thing: independence, so that txxt Pete Wishart (and Runrig, dear god what an awful band) can have a different opinion. I want to vote for the SNP, and have a few times, but Wishart/Runrig are the down side.

blakey says:

hang maybe there is a good side to this

If they enforce copyright successfully and nobody can share Runrig anymore maybe i won’t have to hear that dreadful music ever again and the band will be forgotten. Its a thin sliver of positive to cling to though.(i still remember the first time i heard Runrig, one night in the mid 80s, it made me want to bang my head on a rusty nail).

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

What’s bonkers is that the “content” industry has been able to make up any figures they’ve wanted to prove “losses” their profits say aren’t happening. Certainly the amounts they toss into lobbying and pay their CEOs and other executives say aren’t happening.

They use the creative accounting they use not to pay artists their residuals/royalties and so on to come up with their numbers on “piracy” and they’re believed.

Now THAT’S truly bonkers.

Anonymous Coward says:

makes no difference what figures are looked at, taken into account or actually used, the UK has already sold it’s soul to the entertainment industries. they have listened to the absolute bull shit those industries put out in court and now allows for website blocking, internet censorship and internet disconnections based on accusations only, again from those industries. i hope that there is something similar to the US anti-trust law in the UK and EU so that ISPs can be sued for taking money from customers in return for supplying a service, whilst at the same time, passing personal information to another company so that the same customers can be sued.

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