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EU Piracy Estimates — Just How Inaccurate? 124

Posted by Soulskill
from the pirates-across-the-pond dept.
Last week we discussed news that a US government report questioned the reliability of piracy statistics from the media industry. Reader superapecommando sends in a follow-up written by Glyn Moody that examines a similar problem in Europe. Quoting: "As far as I know, no similar analysis has been carried out for European reports. So I thought it might be interesting to look at one particular European report on the subject — not least because I've heard that its findings influenced some of the MPs voting on the Digital Economy Act. ... 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 report as in those criticised by the US GAO."
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EU Piracy Estimates — Just How Inaccurate?

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  • by jornak (1377831) on Monday April 19, 2010 @03:41PM (#31900988)

    I don't know about you, but I pirate games as a demo. If I download one or two songs from a new album, and I like them, I'll go out and buy the CD.

    I played half an hour of Just Cause 2 and decided to go out and buy the game within an hour of playing with the pirated version.

    It's reasonable nowadays seeing as these companies are developing too many shitty games to release a goddamn demo, so more people will buy their shit because of the media hype, and not the actual gameplay.

  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday April 19, 2010 @03:46PM (#31901088) Homepage Journal

    There's no way to make any kind of meaningful estimate as to how much piracy there is, let alone how much or if any of that results in lost sales or gained sales. No data == no meaningful guesses.

  • What the? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Monday April 19, 2010 @03:51PM (#31901154) Journal

    calculating the overall piracy loss in Europe draw on figures supplied by the recording industry itself

    Seriously? You know, there was a time when we believed the cigarette companies that smoking was fine based on the stats they gave us - and look how well that turned out.

    This kind of self policing industry crap has got to stop.

  • by gman003 (1693318) on Monday April 19, 2010 @03:52PM (#31901174)

    The "substitution rate" is probably the worst figure in all these papers, mainly because it is far from constant. Perhaps, with enough study, you could find the substitution rate for one specific product in one region, but trying to get a national average by product category is ludicrous.

    Since people like blaming Metallica, I'll use them as an example. Note that all these numbers were pulled out of my ass, same as all numbers.

    You may get a substitution rate of 50% for Master of Puppets in Southwestern US. You may get a 2% substitution rate for St. Anger in Finland. You may get a 20% substitution rate for "S&M", and you'd be lucky to get a 1% rate for "Acoustic Metal". That's a massive change just for one band. How would you compare the rates between The Black Mages and Justin Bieber? Trying to lump target audiences like that will give you numbers about as meaningful as the ones I just made up.

    Listen up, MAFIAA. We care about three things: quality, price, and usability. We will pay for the good stuff, and tell you where to shove your crap. We don't want to pay 30$ for a music album, $20 for movie tickets, or $70 for a game. Finally, we want to get stuff easily, that works with everything, and doesn't come with legal crap that shouldn't have a chance of standing up in court.

    And if you can't give us those three things, you need a new economic model. How many bands are giving out the music for free and making money from concerts and merchandise? It's nearly impossible to pirate a t-shirt or an experience. How much money are "free-to-play" games making?

    Stop trying to legislate a profit, and start spending as much on those three things as you do on legal fees. Maybe you'll actually make money by, *gasp*, making a desirable product.

  • by countertrolling (1585477) on Monday April 19, 2010 @03:57PM (#31901240) Journal

    Copyright is an entitlement system...

  • That's no excuse (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Entropius (188861) on Monday April 19, 2010 @03:59PM (#31901274)

    In the sciences you put a huge effort into quantifying error. A result might be quoted as:

    60
    +- 2 due to limited sampling in a Monte Carlo experiment (statistical error)
    +- 0.5 due to uncertainties in a previous result that this one relies on
    +- 0.2 due to using an approximation in our math
    +- 0.8 due to uncertainties in how we corrected for a bias (systematic error)

    The presidential pollsters do this: they'd quote some number as "58% for Obama, with a 2 percent statistical margin of error, and an additional 1 percent error coming from the fact that we're not quite sure if we're over- or under-sampling cellphone-only voters."

    If your estimates aren't *precise*, that's okay. You can still give an honest estimate with a large error bar. Do it, and honestly quantify your uncertainty.

  • by Moryath (553296) on Monday April 19, 2010 @04:03PM (#31901324)

    I still blame the RIAA/MPAA/MafiAA... and add in Clear Channel to the mix.

    The death of radio DJ's who actually spun an album now and again was the death of my music-buying habit; it let to me getting burned by a couple groups who had a decent radio single, and the other 12 songs on the album turned out to be pure crap.

    I bought Aerosmith's "Get a Grip" album on the strength of a radio DJ playing it; I left "Just Push Play" on the shelf after listening to a friend's copy and realizing it wasn't worth it.

    Ever since Bill Clinton signed on to radio consolidation, radio's basically been fucked. Small wonder "talk radio" got so big, their only competition has been precanned shit-music format stations. We used to have a 2 great alt-rock stations in town, then Clear Channel bought them out and turned one into yet another mexicrap station, the other into a "shit-rap that morons without two brain cells to rub together blast from their ghetto cruisers" station ... as if we didn't already have 12 of those damn things crapping up the airwaves locally as it stood.

  • by ShadyG (197269) <bgraymusic&gmail,com> on Monday April 19, 2010 @04:04PM (#31901350) Homepage
    Yes, piracy is rampant. I don't need some government study quantifying just how much it's happening. The reality is that content creators have to enter the market with their eyes open and accept reality. I happen to be a musician myself, and I can really relate, but we got by before recordings of any kind existed, and we will continue to survive and practice our art now that recordings are essentially free: Live performances. Works for hire. Voluntary donations. Value added (physical copy, cover art, printed lyrics, etc.). Ad revenue. All this (except the works for hire) can be done with Creative Commons music. Most of all, I don't delude myself into thinking I can give up my day job and be a rock star. I make a good, reliable living doing something that other people need. At night, I create things that I personally need to create. And I don't bitch about it when I don't get paid. I feel happy that anyone other than myself cares to hear any of it.
  • by del_diablo (1747634) on Monday April 19, 2010 @04:11PM (#31901444)

    iTunes lacks a proper platform, and does not give a physical hugable media nor does it deliver full quality flaq.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 19, 2010 @04:15PM (#31901496)

    "Since I have made something (or have been explicitly granted the specific rights to something), I feel I am entitled to request that it be treated the way I want it to be treated."

    Compare that to the following:

    "Since I exist and disagree with you, I feel I am entitled to do whatever I want with what you have made (or have been explicitly granted the specific rights to)."

    There's a bit of a key difference there. If you don't agree with how a copyright holder wants you to treat their stuff, ignore it. The stuff, not their wishes. Don't download it, don't play it for friends, don't talk about it, don't start hate blogs against it. Go give your patronage to copyright holders you DO agree with. They're out there. Think Jonathan Coulton. Sure, he sells his music. But he's not too concerned about people trading MP3s. He gets it.

    Just because other people don't get it isn't any excuse to walk over their wishes. That's called being a dick. No, "they started it!" isn't an excuse, either. Just ignore 'em. Don't give them your money and don't advertise them to your friends. Take away the scant shreds of truth the MPAA/RIAA are desperately clinging to, and they'll collapse. Keep giving them legal cause to go after people, and they will. It's as simple as that.

    But "I really really REALLY want that" is no reason to be a dick about it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 19, 2010 @04:20PM (#31901546)

    They sold it, tough shit. If you want to control your ideas, don't sell them. Or contract out an NDA. But after all this time of stealing every single item out there, DO NOT come crying to us about theft of copyrighted works. YOU STOLE FROM THE PUBLIC.

    So fuck off with your "I feel I am entitled" shit.

    You don't feel I should do what I want with what I know of your stuff? Then don't sell it.

  • by causality (777677) on Monday April 19, 2010 @04:23PM (#31901590)

    In the sciences you put a huge effort into quantifying error. A result might be quoted as:

    60 +- 2 due to limited sampling in a Monte Carlo experiment (statistical error) +- 0.5 due to uncertainties in a previous result that this one relies on +- 0.2 due to using an approximation in our math +- 0.8 due to uncertainties in how we corrected for a bias (systematic error)

    The presidential pollsters do this: they'd quote some number as "58% for Obama, with a 2 percent statistical margin of error, and an additional 1 percent error coming from the fact that we're not quite sure if we're over- or under-sampling cellphone-only voters."

    If your estimates aren't *precise*, that's okay. You can still give an honest estimate with a large error bar. Do it, and honestly quantify your uncertainty.

    Indeed, but since when was the average person educated enough about science and statistics to understand the importance of what you are saying, or to competently criticize the methods used and claims made by the copyright interests?

  • Re:Invalidate (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jeng (926980) on Monday April 19, 2010 @04:23PM (#31901592)

    That should be law.

    If a law is built on incorrect information it should be automatically repealed. After it is repealed it can have another go at becoming law with the correct information.

  • Re:Invalidate (Score:4, Insightful)

    by KahabutDieDrake (1515139) on Monday April 19, 2010 @05:02PM (#31902100)
    Or because building infrastructure at a huge mark up through a no bid contract to your buddies at your previous job takes time.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 19, 2010 @05:09PM (#31902218)

    "Since I have made something (or have been explicitly granted the specific rights to something), I feel I am entitled to use lobbyists and excessive laws to force you to pay more than you are willing to pay. I will also product lower quality, unoriginal remakes and make minimal changes just to artificially extend the time I can charge these crazy amounts."

    That is what the MPAA/RIAA is actually saying.

    Just because other people don't get it isn't any excuse to walk over their wishes

    How about the fact that they have many times in the past used their combined power to raise prices, rip off customers and force out the little independent competition.
    People wish to have culture at a fair price. In a free market we wouldn't have to pay as much but they have repeatedly changed laws and destroyed any hope of it changing back.

    No, "they started it!" isn't an excuse, either.

    It is an excuse, its just one you dont agree with.

    They extend copyright and make attempts to slowly erode rights like fair use and then claim idiotic rubbish like "you license the music not own it" to stop you listening to something you've bought in the way you want.

    I consider culture a basic human right. Granted it might not be as important as some others but my morals allow me to fight an unjust system in any way I decide no matter how many politicians they bribe into passing laws.

  • by misexistentialist (1537887) on Monday April 19, 2010 @05:14PM (#31902280)
    How is it even relevant? Do retailers complain that they lose billions from shoplifting, and demand that soldiers be stationed in stores? Do employers complain that they lose billions from employees reading slashdot, and ask that they be allowed to revoke employee's driver's licenses and put a lien on their houses?
  • by Thing 1 (178996) on Monday April 19, 2010 @08:56PM (#31904840) Journal

    Indeed, but since when was the average person educated enough about science and statistics to understand the importance of what you are saying, or to competently criticize the methods used and claims made by the copyright interests?

    Since before "No Child Left Behind"?

  • by bit01 (644603) on Monday April 19, 2010 @09:08PM (#31904946)

    ... I feel I am entitled to do whatever I want with my copy of what you have made ...

    FTFY

    ---

    Ownership, by definition, is the right to control something. Any ethical (not legal) argument based on "because they own it" is bogus.

The person who's taking you to lunch has no intention of paying.

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