by Mike Masnick
Tue, Dec 7th 2010 7:02am
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Oct 21st 2010 10:29am
from the can't-admit-the-truth? dept
After kicking it off with (yet another) conflation of serious counterfeiting issues (that actually put people's lives in danger) with file sharing of music, movies and software, he simply parrots the totally debunked BSA's stats on unauthorized software:
The global software industry is a prime example.Indeed. If you look at open source software and how they've been able to put together incredible businesses, and enable all sorts of innovation by being the core building blocks of the internet, the web, email and giant companies like Google and Facebook, it really is a prime example of how "piracy" isn't a legal issue, but a business model one. Or wait, did you mean something different?
According to recent industry reports, it is now estimated that, worldwide, more than 40 percent of all software installed on personal computers is obtained illegally -- with forgone revenues to the software industry topping $50 billion.Yes, according to industry reports. But not according to reality. The "foregone revenue" number is based on a simply laughable claim of a 1:1 ratio of unauthorized copies to "foregone revenue." No intellectually honest person would suggest that number is accurate.
These are funds that could have been invested in new jobs and next-generation technologies.Right, except Holder ignores the fact that those funds didn't disappear. It's just that rather than going to a few companies with gov't granted monopolies, they went into actual companies doing stuff with the software. That means, those funds did get invested in new jobs and next-generation technologies. In fact, some of the evidence suggests that the money went towards creating even more jobs than it would have if it had gone towards paying for software.
And software piracy affects more than just the software industry -- since, for every $1 of PC software sold, it's estimated that more than $3 of revenues are lost to local IT support and distribution services. Other IP and support industries are seeing the same ripple effect of losses -- and current trends are alarming.Oh, wait, so you do understand ripple effects. It's just that Eric Holder seems to think ripple effects only go in one direction. They don't. And, um, you do realize that counting "ripple effects" is blatantly misleading in that it's really recounting the same dollars multiple times. Could it be that US Attorney General Eric Holder doesn't understand basic economics and math? Or is he simply accepting widely-debunked claims from an industry that clearly benefits from folks like him repeating those claims? Neither answer seems particularly flattering to Holder.
He then goes on to scold China (without naming them directly) for not doing enough to prop up American businesses. Well, that's not how he puts it, of course, but it's what he's basically saying. Apparently, he hasn't realized that China has been a quick study in figuring out how to use intellectual property laws to hold back foreign companies operating in China -- including many US companies. Encouraging China to respect intellectual property laws is simply encouraging them to harm American companies and innovation, while giving the government more tools to suppress free speech. This is really troubling and dangerous. And, what's most upsetting is that folks like Holder don't even seem to have considered these sorts of reactions.
Next up, he simply makes stuff up to win political brownie points:
As many of you know, last year, President Obama created a new leadership role in the White House -- Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator -- and appointed Victoria Espinel to fill this position.Except, um, that's not true. President Obama did not create that role. It was created by the (problematic) ProIP bill, which was signed by President Bush, not Obama. Now, Obama did hire the first IP czar, and figure out which department it would go in, but only in response to the law signed by his predecessor. To claim he created the role is blatantly false. This may be a minor point, but it highlights that Holder seems to have filled this entire speech with statements that seem to show a disconnect from reality.
Last December, Vice President Biden convened the administration's first intellectual property summit, which brought together cabinet officials and industry leaders to discuss intellectual property rights and policiesRight. The "summit," which only brought in one side of the debate and kicked out the press. The Attorney General is supposed to uphold the law, right? He must have learned at some point that the entire point of copyright and patent laws is to benefit the public by "promoting the progress of science and the useful arts," right? So, if you're going to convene a "summit" about such intellectual property, wouldn't you expect that the real stakeholders should be present as well -- rather than just a few industry folks seeking regulatory capture and an increase in monopoly rents at the expense of the public?
To build on the contributions and achievements of our prosecutors and investigators, in February of this year, I reestablished the Justice Department's Task Force on Intellectual Property.Right, at the same time that you were de-emphasizing the importance of things like stopping identity fraud and finding missing persons. But helping prop up a few companies who contribute a lot to political campaigns? We'll get right on that...
There's a lot more like that in the speech, but honestly, the whole thing is shameful. It's a pure propaganda piece for a few industries, at the expense of the public good.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jun 30th 2010 9:50am
from the let-me-write-the-definitions... dept
24%Now, this might strikes some of you as not sounding right. After all, most of have have noticed that Linux servers seem to be pretty damn common throughout the world. Most of the biggest online companies in the world use Linux, and it's difficult to think of an online startup that doesn't use Linux. Charles Arthur breaks down how incredibly misleading this is:
Linux Server market share in 2005. [source]
Predicted Linux Server market share for 2007 (made in 2005). [source]
Actual Linux Server market share, Q4 2009. [source]
This is a really interesting one, because it is a distortion of reality that would have Steve Jobs applauding at its subtlety. You look at those numbers and think: wow, Linux servers really aren't popular. How odd, because you'll notice that you come across Linux servers all over the place: Google, Facebook (which runs F5's Big IP, which is Linux), Yahoo, Amazon, Wordpress.com (which hosts millions of blogs), Twitter... so why such a small number? (The only major site I could quickly find that runs Windows Server is eBay.)In other words, to make these numbers come out this way, Microsoft is pretending that "free" Linux servers are not competitors. This is a silly sort of willful blindness. Obviously, free Linux is a huge competitor to Microsoft's servers, and widely used in place of it. To ignore those numbers to try to suggest Linux has less marketshare is to deny reality.
Answer: because those "market share" figures are for Linux server licences sold. Microsoft doesn't count them - and because the market research companies can't count them - if money doesn't change hands. True, this indicates that companies selling Linux servers (principally hardware) aren't making headway against Windows Server. But what it doesn't tell you is what progress Linux is making overall on the web. For that, you need Netcraft. And that suggests that Linux has a really big market share.
by Karl Bode
Tue, Apr 20th 2010 2:12pm
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.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Mar 25th 2010 7:10am
Syphilis (Or Was It Facebook?) Blamed For People Not Understanding That Correlation Does Not Mean Causation
from the not-without-a-chi-square! dept
So, yes, you have a bit of weak correlation combined with self-selected anecdotal bias. And that proves what? Uh, absolutely nothing. So, please, for the sake of the sanity of statisticians everywhere, please learn to practice safe statistics, where before you claim something is linked to something else, you actually use "protection" in the form of some real data.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Feb 24th 2010 8:55am
from the all-depends-on-how-you-ask-the-question dept
But, it shouldn't be if you saw how the question was asked.
SG points us to the news about how that particular question was prefaced by asking people to read the following "definition" of what kinds of content would be blocked:
- child sexual abuse
- sexual violence
- gratuitous, exploitative or offensive sexual fetishes; and
- detailed instructions on or promotion of crime, violence or use of illegal drugs
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Nov 21st 2008 7:02am
from the damn-those-facts dept
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Aug 8th 2008 6:38am
from the so-many-mistakes,-so-little-time dept
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jul 15th 2008 11:39pm
from the depends-on-who-asks dept
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jul 11th 2008 6:42am
from the let's-pick-this-apart dept
Now it appears that Macrovision, the big DRM company that supplies DRM to movie studios has cooked up its own study trying to support the MPAA in this argument, claiming that lots of people are copying DVDs and that most of them would buy the DVDs they copy otherwise. However, the LA Times' Jon Healey does an excellent job pointing out the many significant weaknesses in the study, starting, of course, with the fact that it was paid for by Macrovision, with a clear intent in the results. And while Macrovision hypes of the fact that many people in the survey said they would have bought the DVDs they copied, it ignores the fact that the majority of folks they spoke to said the DVDs they made copies of were ones they already legitimately owned.
Even then, the results really aren't as significant as Macrovision would like you (or, rather, Hollywood) to believe. As Healey notes, the study completely ignores the positive impacts of being able to make a copy of a DVD. In fact, the most common reason for making a copy was for perfectly legal time-shifting or back-up purposes from DVDs they legitimately own. In other words, being able able to make those copies is a valuable part of the DVD. Take that away and people will buy fewer DVDs because you've made them less valuable. But, of course, that doesn't show up anywhere in the results, because that's the last thing Macrovision wants people thinking about.
While the study also hypes up the fact that more TV shows are being copied via DVD, it ignores the fact that this is probably quite beneficial. Since TV shows are ongoing experiences, you want more viewers -- and if a copy of a DVD gets someone new hooked on the show, they're more likely to start watching it on TV or to buy a future DVD. But, again, that's not mentioned at all. Either way, props to Healey and the LA Times for digging into the numbers a bit and not just parroting the press release findings, like many other news sources.