Music Group Cheers On Its Own Fake Antipiracy Victories

from the fake-it-until-you-make-it dept

There’s an old saying in statistics: figures don’t lie, but liars figure. Nowhere is this more the case than when you hear numbers streaming from the mouths of those in the anti-piracy business and copyright industries. Examples of this are legion, from the infamous practice of Hollywood accounting rendering hilariously successful films to red-ink status, to bogus piracy costs, to industry claims that rely on every download being a lost sale, to the overall prevalence of piracy statistics more generally speaking. While MUSO, the antipiracy outfit out of Europe, has made some recent noise about copyright holders tweaking their business models to reduce piracy instead of whining about, it has also participated in this liars-figuring practice.

A great example of that can be found in MUSO’s recent partnership with the Association of Independent Music (AIM), where the latter has put out a press release about just how much great work MUSO has performed in taking down pirated content in the past four months.

This week AIM sent out a press release showing how much has been achieved over the past four months. The results, shared by AIM’s Head of Legal & Business Affairs Gee Davy are impressive indeed.

“AIM’s partnership with MUSO began in May this year, and to see 5 million takedowns achieved already reflects the speed and efficiency with which MUSO has covered the catalogs across the independent music community,” Davy notes. “Our members report that they are delighted with the service, which not only protects their releases from online piracy, but creates a visual dashboard to track piracy and protection activity in real time.”

Those are big, impressive sounding numbers that are designed to relay to AIM membership just how much of an effect the partnership with MUSO is having. And, were you simply reading this as an AIM member, you can imagine being quite pleased. To have 5 million takedowns of pirated content occur over four months is going to have an effect, even if it’s still largely a game of whac-a-mole.

Unfortunately, actually looking at the results these numbers are based on results in the realization that this is all bullshit spin and not at all representing the actual result AIM is touting in its release.

The press release doesn’t mention it, but, from what we can see, the five million takedown requests were (nearly) all targeted at Google. This means that no infringing content was taken down there, only search results. Looking more closely at all the takedown requests MUSO sent to Google, on behalf of AIM, an even more disturbing picture emerges.

Google’s Transparency Report confirms that AIM sent close to five million ‘pirate’ URLs to the search engine. However, as it turns out, the vast majority of all reported URLs were not removed. And for a good reason. Most of the links that were reported are simply not in Google’s search index. So, logically, there is nothing to remove.

In other words, that 5 million number isn’t successful takedowns of infringing content, nor is it even successful takedowns of Google search results. Instead, it appears that some sizable percentage of that 5 million number is simply the number of takedown requests sent out to Google to delist search results. And, were that not enough, it seems that this is all part of some automated takedown notice system that isn’t even necessarily tied to actual infringing content that exists for Google to index. TorrentFreak went through the results and searched against torrent sites to search for the actual infringing content that would correspond with the search index removed. In many, many cases, no such infringing content exists.

As mentioned before, these links were never indexed by Google. However, even the torrent site in question doesn’t return any infringing content, as the searches in question return no results.  The above suggests that most of these takedown efforts are rather pointless. The URLs are not in Google’s index and even if they were, many would not point to infringing content.

To us, it appears that many of these notices are automatically generated by using variations of search strings on pirate sites, whether these point to actual pirated content or not.

So if figures don’t lie but liars figure, AIM is very squarely in the liars category. Waving a “mission accomplished” banner for results that can be characterized as “rather pointless” is the sort of thing that ought to really piss off AIM members. And, frankly, cause them call into question just how important any of this anti-piracy activity is to begin with. MUSO, for its part, sure ought to be pushing back against this Press Release if wants to retain any of its own credibility.

Filed Under: , , , ,
Companies: aim, google, muso

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Comments on “Music Group Cheers On Its Own Fake Antipiracy Victories”

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Anonymous Coward says:

any victory, even a false one, even one that is nothing but a lie, is good enough for the entertainment/copyright industries! it makes them feel as if they have actually achieved something even though it is a pointless nothing! the trouble is, this pointless nothing is known but it inspires them to do even more damage to the industries, the members and in particular the consumers! jailing more customers, fining them more and getting them banned from using the Internet is what really gives them pleasure, even though it hurts their pockets. such a shame that the majority of artists cant see how they are being hurt, gaining little if anything, but the studios and bosses get even more rich!!

John85851 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I was just about to say something similar.
If you hired a marketing company for your business and they sent out 5 million flyers, is this a “victory”? Or would you ask what the results where: how many people responded to the flyers, how many people used the coupon, and so on.
Though I guess there’s a reason AIM reports how many takedown notices were went out rather than how much content was taken down. Like Tim said, the AIM members would be shocked to hear that out of 5 million takedown notices, only 10 items were taken down… or was it even that high? 🙂

That One Guy (profile) says:

Only five million? Slackers

With the kind of money those two groups have got to have they could have easily doubled, tripled, or quadrupled those numbers, if not added a few more zeroes on the end. I mean they’re already lying, why go small?

If five million is impressive then five billion would be much more impressive, and it’s not like it would take any more actual work to just inflate the numbers some more.

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