from the fake-science-makes-the-world-go-round dept
A recent GAO study found claims of piracy's supposedly-devastating impact on the economy (shockingly) usually aren't based on real science -- despite the fact that such claims (which usually originate from the entertainment or software industries) are repeatedly parroted by government officials. The study also found that there were a few instances where file trading could actually be a good thing -- and could actually result in increased product sales. The GAO's overall conclusion? No government agency actually bothers to track piracy statistics, and instead just regurgitates scary industry claims without question. The study also found that there's so many moving parts involved -- that making broad claims about piracy's impact on the economy (for better or worse) may not even be possible.
In the UK, the recent Digital Economy Bill was rushed through without any real debate -- but with plenty of typical claims of how piracy was going to lead to economic armageddon if the bill wasn't passed. Just like in the States, the UK government never actually bothered to study whether any of these claims were accurate. If they had, they would have found that -- also just like in the United States -- the claims weren't based on real science but on the usual combination of flawed logic (assuming a copy shared naturally equates to a lost sale) and skewed, industry-supplied data. Looking more closely at the most recent reports that most heavily influenced Digital Economy Bill voting found that very little (if any) data originated with independent, scientific studies:
"So the net result of this 68-page report, with all of its tables and detailed methodology, is that four out of the top five markets used for calculating the overall piracy loss in Europe draw on figures supplied by the recording industry itself. Those apparently terrifying new figures detailing the supposed loss of money and jobs due to piracy in Europe turn out to be little more than a *re-statement* of the industry's previous claims in a slightly different form. As a result, as little credence can be placed in the the report as in those criticized by the US GAO."
Of course none of this surprises anybody who watched the BPI manipulate and massage reality in order to get the bill passed. Meanwhile, the passage of the Digital Economy Bill has file traders heading further underground (where they'll be harder to track), with anonymous BitTorrent protection services seeing a pronounced spike in new users. While the BPI waits for their pet legislation to kick in, they've meanwhile announced that they plan to "reluctantly" return to suing potential customers.