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
    KeillRandor (profile), 8 Jun 2009 @ 11:57am

    Re: Licensing media or content?

    Actually - the real problem, (and I've talked about this before) - is that they want BOTH!

    They want to both SELL you a product, (that just happens to have some particular data/information/music/film etc. on it), and therefore be able to stop you from making unauthorised copies of it, while at the SAME TIME, licensing the particular information on the disk, in order to control how you use it.

    Unfortunately, the law doesn't seem to see that the two are NOT THE SAME THING, and are, in fact, conflicting with each other - (which the DCMA in the US reinforces).

    The problem, is that they should not be allowed to DO both - they should just pick one, license or sell, and stick with it. The reason for this, is that they are both covered by different laws and regulations, which, as I said, conflict - (at least here in the UK).

    But since they have the politicians in their back pocket atm, they're being allowed to get away with it. (While most people just work round it completely).

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