Studies

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
copyright, costs, culture, public domain



Please Help Us Figure Out How Much The Public Has 'Lost' Due To Overprotective Anti-Copy Laws

from the using-their-methodology dept

We recently posted about an ITC report that, among other things, estimated that US companies "lost" $48 billion due to "piracy" in China. This $48 billion number generated plenty of headlines, and since the report was requested by the Senate, you can bet that it will be used politically. The problem, however, was that the methodology was ridiculous. Rather than using any sort of objective measure, the ITC went out and asked 5,000 businesses who were in "IP-intensive fields" what they thought their "losses" were, and then extrapolated out.

It should be obvious why this is ridiculous. It's asking the most biased party, who would benefit the most from government protectionism in their favor, to give totally self-reported details of the "harm" that happens without increased government protectionism, with no attempt to reality-check those results.

One of our critics in the comments responded with a fallacy, suggesting that somehow we should not be allowed to criticize the clearly specious methodology here, without offering an alternative study and results of our own. Of course, to point out that a study's methodology is wrong does not mean that you need to supply your own numbers. And, of course, we regularly point to plenty of good studies on these kinds of subjects as well.

However, an anonymous commenter made the absolutely brilliant suggestion that we should create our own study, using their methodology to calculate how much the public loses each year due to overprotective anti-copy laws. And, so we are. Just as the ITC asked those who had most thought about their "losses" from infringement, I think it's fair to suggest that the readership here includes plenty of people who have thought deeply about the public's losses from overprotection. Thus, I'm hoping we can put together a similar corpus of data from which we can extrapolate a similar number about the public's losses. You can input your own estimate of your losses here:
Now, obviously, this methodology is ridiculous, but if it's good enough for the ITC and the US Senate, it seems that it must be good enough for the counter study. It seems only reasonable that those who accept the results of the ITC study must also accept the results of our study, or admit that both methodologies are simply ridiculous.

Of course, to make this work, we really would like to get as much data as possible (and we really do want you to try to answer the question as honestly as you can -- i.e., don't just make up some crazy large number, but think about it). However, please also spread this post by letting other communities of folks who likely have thought about these issues know about it, so that we can really collect enough data to make this meaningful (in as much as you can make a totally ridiculous and bogus methodology meaningful).

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  1. icon
    harbingerofdoom (profile), 24 May 2011 @ 11:23am

    ive lost pretty much zero. why?

    first, i dont believe a dollar figure should (or for that matter, can) be associated to culture. thats part of the problem that got us to this ugly point to begin with. have i missed out on culture? sure i guess in a way... most specifically in the area of pop-culture (current movies, current music stuff like that) but its not really something that i think can be defined in financial terms.

    the only number i can come up with is to estimate my time using my average salary over the past 10 years and the amount of time i have to put into doing things the old school way instead of just firin up the torrents which based on the amount of time it takes by average salary = ~3600usd/ann but thats as close to putting a dollar figure on anything as it gets and its a rather soft number

    The bigger (and to me more important question) is using the same brainless methodology, how much has big content LOST in sales from their idiotic crusade?

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