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


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  1. icon
    herodotus (profile), 8 Jun 2009 @ 2:45pm

    "Is is not bigger of a lie than saying that widespread downloading / file sharing / infringement / copyright violation / (some say theft of services) isn't causing any hard either.

    it's a match between two groups lying through their teeth. It's too bad that only one side is getting spanked on techdirt."


    No one I have seen representing techdirt has said that downloading isn't causing any harm. The point being made again and again is that nothing can really stop it, and that therefore people in the content industries should try to find a way to adapt to these circumstances.

    I mean, does saying 'drugs are wrong' over and over again make people stop doing them? No. So why do so many people spend so much time and money doing just that?

    It's the same situation with widespread infringement. Until the content industries achieve big-brother like powers (which, lets face it, they just don't have the money for) they will never be able to stop it. In any case, trying to stop it is like trying to get pee out of swimming pool.

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