by Glyn Moody

Filed Under:
new zealand, sharing, three strikes

NZ Copyright Industry Claims New 'Three Strikes' Law Halved Movie Infringements After One Month: So What?

from the show-us-the-numbers dept

The implicit justification for various new copyright enforcement laws, such as the "three strikes" approach, is that they will encourage people to buy more authorized digital goods and thus support artists and their works. Naturally, those in favor of this logic like to produce figures that purport to show that it is working.

Here's another example, based on the claimed results from just one month's operation of a new three strikes law in New Zealand:

In a submission to a government review of the legislation's efficiency, NZ FACT [New Zealand Federation Against Copyright Theft] claimed New Zealanders illegally viewed movies in the top 200 online 110,000 times in August last year -- the month before the new law took effect -- but only 50,000 times in September.
Of course, those figures are unverified, and might well be wide of the mark – note that they were in a submission to a review by the New Zealand government, and not something released publicly. But even accepting them for the moment, it's significant that the same report on the Australian IT News site wrote:
Despite the drop in the first month, NZ FACT noted there had been no "discernible progress" since then.
So we have a drop followed by a plateau. The question is: what happens in the longer term? In Sweden, when the IPRED legislation against unauthorized file sharing was brought in, the Internet traffic for the country dropped by 30%, suggesting that the law had modified users' behaviors considerably. But eight months after that, traffic was back up to the original level, indicating that whatever users had stopped doing in the wake of the new law, they were doing it again -- something confirmed by more recent research. Similarly, an early report claimed that the French three strikes program had already resulted in increased digital sales -- except that was not the only possible explanation, as a previous Techdirt post explored.

This pervasive uncertainty means that one month's figures about supposed drops in unauthorized file sharing are really pretty meaningless. What we need to see is the long-term pattern. And more importantly, if there is indeed a significant, sustained fall in such sharing, we need to see an equally significant, sustained uplift in sales that correlates with that fall. Without that kind of positive effect, demonstrated with rigorous data, three strikes programs are little more than an exercise in vindictiveness.

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  1. icon
    Tim Griffiths (profile), 27 Jul 2012 @ 5:41am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "The problem is there is never going to be a direct, overnight shift"

    According the industries there should be given that every download is a lost sale (the logic they use to base their damage claims on when suing people) then when there is one less download there should be automatically one more sale.

    Unless the industry wants to admit that "lost sale" means "lost feature sale" and since the future hasn't happened yet that makes it a "lost potential sale" and once we get them to admit that download only represent a sale in potential we can start having a grown up discussion about how much piracy actually hurts the industry... which is actually likely not all that much... at which point we can repel these kind of laws and the industry can take the time to deal with the real problems causing their lost sales i.e. them self's.

    If download in a month drop but sales do not go up then we have huge proof that downloads are not lost sales. What the industry forgets is that most people have a given budget for media, if some pirates more than that budget there comes a point at which their action of pirating does not actually hurt any one because it's not money they would have ever spent.

    Most serious pirates download more content than they could reasonably consume let alone pay and as such using "downloaded" numbers as some kind of measure of harm is idiotic.

    Just take Iphones, you can only pirate apps on jail broken phones which make up what? 20% of the market or there abouts and yet app devs will talk about HUGE piracy of their apps. Which is strange, if we say an app had a 90% piracy rate that rate can only become from 20% of the market and so rather than 90% of market for the app not buying it it can only be at most the same percentage as jail broken iphones.

    Given that there are a whole wealth of reasons for jailbraking your iphone rather than just pirating apps then we have to assume that not every jail broken phone belongs to a pirate. So the percentage of the market who pirate apps is less that 20%, maybe a lot less.

    What is happening here is that since pirates don't have to cearfully pick what they will and won't buy app wise due to budgets like normal consumers do. This means they consume VASTLY more than most none pirating consumers and so vastly inflates the rate of piracy.

    There is an assumption in the industry that a download count exists in isolation and is representative of a users buying habbits. And that is not only idiotic it makes them think the amount of the market they are actually having trouble with is vastly larger than it ever could be. Which leads to the them pushing of laws like this that are not only dangerous but which will never be as effective as they think they should have been.

    Even if a piracy law worked really well put a real long term dent in piracy the actual benefit to the industry (if there is one at all actually) will be so much less than they expect that the industry will presume the law is not doing enough and lobby for stricter laws that likely come at the expense of normal people.

    They are trying to legislate for a world that does not exist while doing massive damage to the one that does.

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