Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Australian Government Calls BS On Bogus Copyright Industry 'Losses'

from the about-freakin'-time dept

We've spent years complaining about the completely bogus stats put out by the likes of the BSA, the RIAA and MPAA about just how much "piracy" is costing them. These stats usually make a few really bad assumptions, such as the idea that every unauthorized copy is a lost sale. They also fail to take into account any promotional impact of the material. More recently, the MPAA has expanded on the already bogus stats by claiming that they're even bigger because you need to take into account the ripple effect of the losses through other industries that support the movie industry. Of course, they conveniently ignore that (a) this is double counting and (b) those ripple effects counterbalance themselves by making more money available for other parts of the economy. The most unfortunate part about all these bogus numbers, however, is that they're continually quoted in the press and by government officials as if they're factual when they're highly misleading.

That's why it's great to see this following bit of news, submitted by Greg Nelson. Apparently, the Australian government has done its own research into some of these numbers and the draft version of the report has found them to be a bunch of "self-serving hyperbole" that fail to explain clearly how these numbers are anything real. In fact, the report calls the numbers "absurd." Specifically, they claim the numbers are "unverified and epistemologically unreliable." They then worry about "the potentially unqualified use of these statistics in courts of law," which is already pretty common. They also found that, despite repeated claims about a connection, there is no known connection between unauthorized file sharing and organized crime. It's a bit surprising to see such bold statements out of a government document -- and already the agency putting this together says it's just a draft by a consultant, and suggests that the language will be toned down. In fact, they say that the language in the report is "hyperbolic" which is exactly how the report describes the copyright industry's claims. Meanwhile, the industry representatives themselves brush off these accusations as if it's a to-may-to/to-mah-to difference: "They're entitled to say they're not convinced, but not necessarily entitled to say it's unverified." Of course, he doesn't say who verified the numbers or how they were really verified.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Matthew, Nov 7th, 2006 @ 4:36am


    Meeting at my place. There may be cake...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Artimaeis, Nov 7th, 2006 @ 4:45am

    Are Eyes Finally Being Opened?

    aww, if the world finds out that downloading music isn't so bad after all then we'll lose the awesome name of pirates :(

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Jezsik, Nov 7th, 2006 @ 4:50am

    Want accurate stats?

    Since the industry seems to have such significant loses, maybe we should let them write off those loses? Watch how fast the government focuses on those bogus stats then!

    For the humor impared, no, I'm not serious.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Mathias, Nov 7th, 2006 @ 5:57am


    I'm only coming if there is punch and pie...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Hemant, Nov 7th, 2006 @ 6:09am

    Australian government can never be wrong

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Magnanimous Coward, Nov 7th, 2006 @ 6:25am


    I'm no expert on Australia (or their government) by any means, but they usually seem to have way more common sense than most other governments (like, say, the good ol' US govt).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    DJ Twiztid, Nov 7th, 2006 @ 6:36am


    I require strippers too

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Suprised again., Nov 7th, 2006 @ 6:43am


    So is this a "bring your own software/music" event?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Wyndle, Nov 7th, 2006 @ 7:14am


    Will there be LAN gaming as well?

    On topic though, how could file-sharing possibly be related to organized crime as implied or stated by the industry? Yeah, there are some organized pirate groups but the common concept of organized crime is the Mafia. The Mafia's goals are money and power, rules be damned. So how could free file sharing possibly be of interest to the Mafia? Does it help them sell that shipment of stolen iPods?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    U2, Nov 7th, 2006 @ 7:47am

    I got

    I don't buy music because I can't steal gasoline.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Matt Bennett, Nov 7th, 2006 @ 8:12am

    The Aussies got balls. I dig.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Joe Smith, Nov 7th, 2006 @ 8:27am

    It seems to me that the instant one of these organizations refers to their study in court they expose the author of the report to cross examination and it does not sound like any of them would stand up to ten minutes of cross examination.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Richard Ahlquist, Nov 7th, 2006 @ 9:22am


    Statistics never lie, but liars often use statistics.

    Dont remember who that quote is from but it applies. A statistic is usually a mathematically derived fact representing something. So the statistics are probably 100% perfect mathematical representations of whatever the liar wants to prove.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2006 @ 9:27am

    Re: Are Eyes Finally Being Opened?

    yes but then the name(s) of ninjas and robots will come into use

    as for it being organized crime - from what I know, not in the US, but it is to a degree in the mid-east and asia. not exactly like Al Capone blowing up bars that dont want his liquor, but I do understand that software pirates openly sell hacked/cracked software right on the street corner.

    aside from a new name and organization, I dont doubt that these "authorities" include the excessive legal costs, limo's and fancy cars they drive to court for these cases, a few million dollars for "margin of error", etc...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    franticfred, Nov 7th, 2006 @ 9:34am

    Microsoft became wildly successful because people


    The "I'll collect every cent for you" mentality is due to the influx of legal and accounting folks into these companies. That influx occurs when companies go into the consolidation of business phases. The accountants and lawyers have to pay for their own costs; however, they really piss off the public in doing so. Countless companies have gone through the same processes; e.g. Datapoint Corp was making money hand over fist until the control freaks showed up and started insisting that all the demo machines extant be accounted for. From then on the slippery slope got steeper.

    Piracy isn't piracy until there is an egregious instance of someone making profits off the appropriation of a company's "intellectual property", IMHO. After all, there are no damages until profits can be shown to have been accrued. All other "profits" are assumed, and you know what that means................

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    chris (profile), Nov 7th, 2006 @ 11:35am

    wow. this is startling news.

    the australian government has also stated that the sky is blue, that water is wet, bears do in fact deficate in the woods, and the pope is demonstratively catholic. now if they could just establish that size does matter, we might all be able to get on with our lives.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    DJ Twiztid, Nov 7th, 2006 @ 12:06pm


    As a LAN Admin I would say sweet! New title to the piracy we have going on. Last Halloween I went as a bandwidth vampire, this year I went as a software year will be based off of the mafia! Oh the possibilities!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2006 @ 1:06pm

    He's a very naughty boy

    Uh oh. That poor consultant has come up with the wrong result. No more fat government contracts for him.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    :), Nov 7th, 2006 @ 2:01pm

    ...THERE IS A GOD!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Angus, Nov 7th, 2006 @ 3:30pm

    BSAA Stats

    I interviewed Jim McNamara a while ago and asked him about those stats. The basic methodology they have used for ages is to measure the number of PCs sold, then extrapolate from that as to how many pieces of 'standard' (OS, office, etc) software should have been bought. The difference between that number and actual sales is supposed to represent piracy. Obviously this methodology is flawed ... recent innovations such as free open-source software, re-use of existing licenses from 'dead' boxes, self-constructed PCs from parts and possible under/over reporting by software vendors can all lead to weird numbers. Jim defended this by saying that they had also commissioned anonymous telephone surveys from 3rd parties to ask users whether they had ever pirated software - and the percentages that revealed matched the estimates closely enough that they felt justified in using them, at least as relative measures.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2006 @ 6:23pm

    Re: Want accurate stats?

    Why are you not serious?
    The IRS (in the US) is rather good a not allowing bs deductions. I would also force the RIAA and the like to prove they own the copywrites. I have had dealing with the IRS and they look at methodology as well as the numbers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Sahil Khan, Jul 23rd, 2007 @ 3:11am

    Give information about BS program

    DEar Sir I m Sahil from Pakistan
    SIr please give me all information about BS in computer secinec program, whats its admision fees and how can i take admision in BS, I have done DAE 3 years diploma program from sindh bord education and aslo prepared for give ILETS program.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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