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
    Hulser (profile), 8 Jun 2009 @ 7:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    *yawn* - Mike has repeatedly pointed at the old "no harm" legal arguments.

    If there are so many repetitions of this, then it won't be so hard to find an example, right? I can't think of any single instance where Mike or any Techdirt contributors has stated that copyright infringement hasn't caused any harm to anyone. (The new automobile industry caused "harm" to the buggy whip industry; it doesn't mean this was immoral or illegal.)

    What TD has stated is that in spite of the moral or legal arguments against copyright infringement, if you're interested in making money, there are better ways to do so than to preoccupy yourself with who "stole" what and change your business model to account for the new environment. Would you rather be right and left behind in the new marketplace or "wrong" and make money?

    The old "strawman" claim is a standard way of asking someone not to state everything in one place at one time.

    While you have used the technique, you seem to have a fundamental misunderstanding of the concept of the strawman argument. Again, I suggest you look it up. Here's a hint: contradicting a statement that was never made in the first place.

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