Bad Science's Ben Goldacre Rips Apart Bogus Study On File Sharing

from the there-goes-another-one dept

Over the years, we've found that every single industry "figure" or "study" on the harm done by unauthorized file sharing wasn't supported by anything factual once you started to dig into the details. So, when we saw yet another report claiming huge "costs" associated with file sharing in the UK we dismissed it pretty quickly noting it made many of the same mistakes as previous studies had. Apparently, it's even worse than that. Ben Goldacre, known for his excellent Bad Science blog has now taken the time to pick through the details of that awfully bad UK report, and found it laughable.

The big numbers being quoted, such as the £10 billion in losses? Not from any actual study. It's from an IP lawyer's press release, with nothing backing it up, other than "Rights owners have estimated" and that number includes both counterfeiting and "piracy" which are related, but different.

The other big figure quoted in the media? £120 billion worth of downloaded materials per year? Yeah, turns out that's based on (a) using a ridiculously high price of £25 per downloaded item and (b) totally and completely made up. You see, the number was already questionable, but the actual number in the report was not £120 billion, but £12 billion. Yet, the group blasting the report out to the press put the wrong numbers (just an order of magnitude off) in the press release, and only quietly changed it after one reporter caught the error. Goldacre asked the group what it was doing to alert the many, many reporters who went with the bogus number, and the group suddenly told him the interview was off the record.

Filed Under: bad science, ben goldacre, file sharing, harm, studies


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  1. icon
    Eskimo Heel (profile), 8 Jun 2009 @ 10:54am

    Licensing media or content?

    The real issue is that these guys want you to believe you are licensing CONTENT rather than the physical media. And they want it both ways. How about the fact that I've bought the Beatles' "Abbey Road" at least 4 times - LP, 8-track, cassette, and DVD. I can't tell you how many of the LPs and tapes wore out too. If they are really licensing content, I should be able to present a defective media and, at a reduced cost, get a replacement... but they don't do that because when you take this approach, they say you BOUGHT the content.
    So now that I've made digital recordings of the content I have clearly bought - er, LICENSED - I'm never going to buy another copy of Abbey Road - have they considered their lost revenue is because none of us will EVER need to buy additional copies of music already bought? Hm, I wonder if all of started going back with defective MEDIA and asked to have the license transferred to a different copy of the media, would they have to give in? Any lawyers in the audience?

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