Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Piracy Stats Don't Add Up 258

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the someone-went-out-on-a-limb dept.
arenam writes to tell us Australian IT is reporting that a recent briefing for the Attorney-General's Department prepared by the Australian Institute of Criminology draws certain piracy statistics into question. From the article: "The draft of the institute's intellectual property crime report, sighted by The Australian shows that copyright owners 'failed to explain' how they reached financial loss statistics used in lobbying activities and court cases. Figures for 2005 from the global Business Software Association showing $361 million a year of lost sales in Australia are 'unverified and epistemologically unreliable,' the report says."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Piracy Stats Don't Add Up

Comments Filter:
  • by macadamia_harold (947445) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @04:35AM (#16749367) Homepage
    Figures for 2005 from the global Business Software Association showing $361 million a year of lost sales in Australia are 'unverified and epistemologically unreliable,' the report says.

    In other news, the sky outside appears to be a "blue" color, and when dropped, most objects behave in a "falling" manner.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Umbral Blot (737704)
      Word on the street is that the pope is catholic too, and that bears shit in the woods.
    • by salec (791463) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @05:32AM (#16749623)
      Regarding your sig and this topic: "#6. When describing the size of a treasure, a pirate is required to exaggerate by at least 130%."
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Identity infringement is NOT theft, you still have your identity!!! Calling it "identity theft" is playing right into the hands of giant corperashuns.

      Election infringement is NOT theft, you still have your election after all!!! Calling this a "stolen" election is playing right into the hands of giant corperashuns.

      Service infringement is NOT theft, you still have your services after all!!! Calling it "theft of services" is playing right into the hands of giant corperashuns.

      Sincerely yours,
      Brickheaded Literal
      • by Pink Tinkletini (978889) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @06:11AM (#16749767) Homepage
        Nice try, but I doubt the pro-piracy blowhards on this site will catch the irony. They'll just keep stealing and stealing other people's IP until there's nothing left to take. Thieves aren't the brightest of folk, after all.
        • by jidar (83795) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @09:32AM (#16751015)
          yeah exactly! Which is why I've been downloading this same Pantera album over and over for 12 years. I figure if I can get all the copies downloaded before the pirates do then people wont be able to steal it anymore.
        • by ajs (35943) <ajsNO@SPAMajs.com> on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @10:16AM (#16751563) Homepage Journal
          Nice try, but I doubt the pro-piracy blowhards on this site will catch the irony. They'll just keep stealing and stealing other people's IP until there's nothing left to take. Thieves aren't the brightest of folk, after all.


          Informative? Hrm...

          Ok, first off: "pro-piracy blowhards"; what does that mean? Do you mean someone like myself who feels that copyright law is no longer serving its purpose as intended by the constitution, and that its abuse is harming the value of copyrights as a tool for regulation? Or, are you simply arm-waving at the teens who haven't yet considered the implications of their actions, and are just downloading whatever they want because it's the path of least resistance?

          Personally, I think the two are connected. I think the average teens that download music or movies or whatever, in violation of copyright, are doing so because the copyright system has never seemed like something that matters to anyone they know. It's not equitable, so there's no sense that you are "stealing" or depriving anyone of anything. Artists tell us that they're not being compensated for their work (in fact many of them go into debt when producing music specifically), and we constantly hear of large studios (for film, television and music) abusing their power in order to manipulate markets and deprive artists of the fruits of their work.

          Under that sort of system, how is it shocking that most people would rather "steal" than pay to support the system? Now, if we had a system of automatic licensing, and zero penalties for revenueless electronic duplication, THEN I think you would see an increase in the number of people who wanted to support the system. After all, if you know an artist or two who really benefit from the system, you're going to feel that it's worth it. If you know an artist for two who get screwed by the system....

          As for theft vs. infringement: there are three offenses. The first is a violation of federal law, such as the DMCA. That's a federal crime, but it's not theft. There is copyright infringement. That's a sort of logical theft, but under the law, the two are very distinct. Be clear about which you are talking about: the law or the common expression. Then there is license violation. That's a strictly civil matter between two parties over an agreement which is broken, and which is theft in exactly no ways. Theft under the law has nothing to do with copyright infringement. That's just the way it is.

          It's important to point out that words like "theft" simply muddy the watrer, and combine concepts which should not be combined.
          • by Hoi Polloi (522990) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @10:48AM (#16751999) Journal
            The copyright advocates lose a lot of respect, in my eyes, when they pushed to have copyrights extended to a ridiculous 75 (+20) years [nationalreview.com]. Somehow they feel they should have a lock on culture for generations. Disney of course pushed for this just around the time they're copyrights were going to end. Nothing sleazy about that! Everything created has a piece of something someone did before them in it. Nothing is 100% original yet companies like Disney feel they can use the ideas of others and then deny use of their result in turn. Too bad the Brothers Grimm couldn't copyright their work for a few hundred years, Disney would never have gotten started.
      • by WilliamSChips (793741) <full@infinity.gmail@com> on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @07:09AM (#16750021) Journal
        Identity infringement is NOT theft, you still have your identity!!! Calling it "identity theft" is playing right into the hands of giant corperashuns.
        That's called "fraud", which isn't theft. Fraud and theft are different crimes, just as copyright infringement and theft are different crimes.
        Election infringement is NOT theft, you still have your election after all!!! Calling this a "stolen" election is playing right into the hands of giant corperashuns.
        That's called election fraud. That's fraud, which is not theft.
        Service infringement is NOT theft, you still have your services after all!!! Calling it "theft of services" is playing right into the hands of giant corperashuns.
        Fraud.

        Calling those theft are just helping ruin the English language.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Calling those theft are just helping ruin the English language.


          Like that sentence...

          You're right about the rest though :)
        • A little inflexible with language, are we? I shudder to think of how you might rail against the likes of Shakespeare and Eliot. "Multitudes? How can an individual contain multitudes?! Walt Whitman is ruining English!"

          Hint: expression takes human judgment. Language isn't logic.
      • ...unless you say "YARR!" while you're doing it.

    • There ought to be some kind of celebration that this wonderful (and actually quite useful) word has actually made it into print, in what seems to be a government report. Literacy is not yet dead. And in Australia, even better.

      Perhaps the most suitable punishment for lying lobbyists (is there another kind?) would be to be beaten over the head with philosophy textbooks until they coluld tell their episteme from their noesis.

  • Silly pirates... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by databank (165049) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @04:39AM (#16749381)
    I chuckled at the quote in the article:

          "Some industry groups were reluctant to work with researchers, because of concern about data leaking to competitors."

    All I could think of was..."Ha..ha...we have more pirates then YOU DO!"

    Seriously what kind of "data" could piracy statistics be used by the competition?
  • by aadvancedGIR (959466) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @04:39AM (#16749383)
    It's how much they pay politician to pass laws in their favor and losy tech firms to invent crappy DRMs, maybe that's where the 361M$ comes from.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dbIII (701233)

      It's how much they pay politician to pass laws in their favor

      Bribing politicians is illegal in Australia and we have actually put corrupt polititions in jail so we don't have a powerful lobby system like the USA. It is also a lot cheaper to run for office than it is in the USA so large donations are not as necessary. That said - people have got residency visas almost immediately after donating to the right party so corruption does still exist - it's just there are checks and balances that keep it down an

      • by grimwell (141031)
        not even silly rules about stripping citizenship from convicted felons.

        Hmmmm, wonder if that has anything to do with Australia starting life as a British penal colony? Sorry, couldn't restist. /don't have anything against Down Under
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by celotil (972236)

          Hmmmm, wonder if that has anything to do with Australia starting life as a British penal colony? Sorry, couldn't restist. /don't have anything against Down Under

          No offence taken, mate. According to the state records of New South Wales, our first policemen were convicts. :)

          The following is from The NSW State Government Archives [nsw.gov.au]:

          Historical Background

          In August 1789, Arthur Phillip established a night-watch which came under civil control. It consisted of eight of the best-behaved convicts in the Co

      • by bangzilla (534214)
        "All adults
        • have
        to vote" - really? How is this enforced? What's the penalty for not voting?
        • by Elemenope (905108)
          IIRC, a citation backed up with a fine. Unlike the USA, many democratic republics take the whole 'duty to vote' thing seriously. The *least* we could do is make today a nat'l holiday...
        • by RangerElf (32760)
          Same as in Chile, all registered adults
          have to vote, else, face severe fines
          and probably jail time.

          Voting is a legal obligation, I hope
          something like that is enacted here
          in Mexico too.

          -gca
        • by johnw (3725)
          ISTR from when I lived there that you don't actually have to vote - you just have to turn up and be counted. Having appeared at the polling station you're free to vote or not as you prefer.

          I don't know what the penalties are for not appearing, but I have a vague recollection that you can be fined.

          John
        • by compro01 (777531)
          A minor fine, IIRC, though according to a couple friends of mine, it's pretty easy to get out of with pretty much any excuse you can think of. or if don't want to vote for whatever reason, simply turn in a blank or otherwise fouled ballots and you still count as having voted.

          they enforce it simply by checking your name off the list of registered voters when you turn in your ballot.
    • Favor? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
      ``It's how much they pay politician to pass laws in their favor''

      Favor? These laws make it illegal for me to play DVDs I buy if they use CSS. Obviously, this means I won't buy these DVDs. I don't know how that works in the copyright holders' favor...
  • Reasoning (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jac89 (979421) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @04:48AM (#16749419)
    Of course they dont want to share how they come up with their data. They know that simply equating downloads to lost sales is not an accurate prediction.
    • Re:Reasoning (Score:4, Interesting)

      by aadvancedGIR (959466) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @05:02AM (#16749491)
      In court, they do not even try to equate them, their figure is more in the line of 1 download = 100 to 1000 lost sales.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by XaXXon (202882)
        That IS an equation. Just.. for the record.
        • by mgblst (80109)
          Yeah, but it is not equal to, which is what equate means. It isn't short for equation, you know.
      • In court, they do not even try to equate them, their figure is more in the line of 1 download = 100 to 1000 lost sales.

        Wasn't that uploads?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Of course they dont want to share how they come up with their data. They know that simply equating downloads to lost sales is not an accurate prediction.

      Sure it is. Hell, I lost $4 million in record sales last year because I haven't put out an album and don't have any musical talent. I wonder who I can sue.
      • > I haven't put out an album
        Fair Enough
        > and don't have any musical talent
        That is no barrier to releasing an album - see most of the charts for further info.
  • by Spacelem (189863) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @04:53AM (#16749445)
    I can't see these stats making any difference. The recording industry is highly unlikely to start making apologies for using bad data, and are going to use the best numbers they can come up with, accurate or not.
  • First Impression (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TPS Report (632684)
    From the article [news.com.au]:

    The draft of the institute's intellectual property crime report, sighted [reference.com] by The Australian shows that copyright owners "failed to explain" how they reached financial loss statistics used in lobbying activities and court cases.

    If the author of the article wants to be taken seriously, he may want to do more than a basic spell check. I would think strong written skills would be reasonably important as a journalist. Perhaps not.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Xiroth (917768)
      Uh, no. They are saying that they've seen the report, not that they're referencing it in an academic sense, which wouldn't make sense as they're not.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sasdrtx (914842)
        Parent should be modded funny, people.

        Anyone who thinks the article's author really meant the word 'sighted', is as clueless as he is. 'Sighted' in this context makes no sense; especially when it's a homonym for a word very commonly used in that context.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by psmears (629712)
          Uhh... are you sure about that?
          • The article is in Australian IT, connected to The Australian [news.com.au] newspaper.
          • The report in question is a draft of a confidential briefing. So it hasn't been published, and so can't be "cited" in the conventional sense, by The Australian or anyone else.
          • It's quite common for newspapers to mention that they've seen unpublished material that they're writing about, usually with the phrase "seen [telegraph.co.uk] by [atimes.com]"
          • However, in Australia/NZ the phrase "sighted by" seems to be more [cryptome.org] common [abc.net.au] in this conte
      • Uh, no. They are saying that they've seen the report, not that they're referencing it in an academic sense, which wouldn't make sense as they're not.

        You tell me which makes more sense.
        1) Use of the word "sighted" instead of "seen" when "seen" is shorter, more common in English and more easily understood by readers. In other words, your contention is that we have to believe that the writer deliberately chose an unusual verb in English to describe something rather simple.
        2) Another ignorant writer who
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by jazir1979 (637570)
      TPS is from the US, so we can forgive the poor grasp of English.

      Sighted is used correctly in this instance.
    • by Stooshie (993666)

      A spell checker wouldn't have picked that up anyway as both "sighted" and "cited" are valid, correctly spelled English words.

      The correct word to use in this context is, in fact, "seen".

  • by eebra82 (907996) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @05:31AM (#16749621) Homepage
    I don't buy the general arguments that a pirated application worth $100 is a $100 loss. Many of those who pirate software are usually not in so much need of it, that they are willing to pay for it if pirating is no alternative.

    Additionally, one must consider the fact that if an application is popular among pirates, it is also likely to sell more copies of its software, simply because more people spread the word about this particular software.

    Last but not least, some people do buy software only after using it for some time. A perfect example is Photoshop. It's a typical application that requires a lot of time to learn and costs too much to just "check out" (and I'm aware of the trial version). Some of the graphics artists who find out that this really is a useful and valuable tool, may also purchase the application. So for starters, they help spread the word of Photoshop and they also become potential buyers.
    • by Spacejock (727523)
      And there's something else nobody seems to take into account with these figures: If someone steals a widget from a shop, the loss is the COST PRICE of that item, not the price they would have sold it for if it hadn't been stolen. E.g. A music CD might have a wholesale price of $5 and a retail of $10. If shoplifted, the shop has lost $5, not $10.

      Now, most software includes a CD, a slender manual and a huge glossy box. Let's assume there's an application with a retail price of $799. If someone nicks a copy
      • That's why the numbers are almost always presented as "lost revenue", "lost sales", or "lost margins". The real fiscal loss is very close to zero, if not zero. There is no accepted accounting methodology I know of to report a lost sale that wouldn't sound the 5 alarm bell at any governmental financial auditing body, so they push their garbage accounting out over PR wires instead. I don't think piracy is right, but imaginary "lost sale" accounting is just as bad since it deceives share holders.
      • by AusIV (950840)

        but if someone's pirated the app they generally won't be ringing up for support.

        That's not completely true:

        Pirates want support for steam. [arstechnica.com]

        Windows Genuine Advantage [microsoft.com] was created to prevent having to provide support for pirates.

        Those are the only two cases I found quickly, but I'm sure there are others.

  • by _Hellfire_ (170113) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @05:39AM (#16749651) Homepage
  • For a minute there, i thought it was the Attorney-General's Department who had used the word "epistemologically" correctly in a sentence, rather than some Institute. my world view was momentarily shaken.
  • by Digital Vomit (891734) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @06:59AM (#16749973) Homepage Journal
    copyright owners 'failed to explain' how they reached financial loss statistics used in lobbying activities and court cases.

    Did they check their ass? That's usually where these statistics are pulled out of.

  • by Chaffar (670874) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @07:39AM (#16750159)
    [RIAA representative puts left pinky next to corner of mouth] This year we will lose... 100 BILLION DOLLARS !
  • by mumblestheclown (569987) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @07:57AM (#16750263)
    Here we are again. Another organization makes some claim relating to the damages caused by piracy. As always, the elephant in the room (that piracy is substantial and deserves attention, if only because society has collectively devleoped a bargain where creators of intellectual property are entitled to reasonable protection of their works but that protection is being circumvented in massive quantities) is ignored. Instead, smoke and mirrors are thrown up - the large number cited is 'unverifiable' as if a definitive number to sixty decimal places could be derived - or are we going to get into a stupid discussion about terms such as 'piracy' and 'theft' again? Even if the SBA estimate is high due to the use of SBA-favourable assumptions, the elephant is still there.

    Let's discuss the real issues, shall we?

    • When A pirates software X and B pays for it, the producer still loses even if A never intended to pay for it, as the perceived value of the software is less. Consider the situation where you were the only person in the world who bought the latest music CD and everybody else got the same music by pirating it. Proof of ownership? Hell no - you feel like a sucker, because, in fact, the situation has made you one.
    • As is always brought up here in slashdot in other contexts - there's no need to pirate any given piece of software, as there are free alternatives out there. so, even if you see nothing wrong with, say, creating unlicenced drugs to save lives, the fact is that in this case there simply is no analogue. even if there were no OSS, you'd be hard pressed to suggest that anybody NEEDS software.
    • Software patents may well be evil. There may well be problems in the IP regime. You may be against the idea that copyright is continuously extended. However, none of this has anything to do with the present discussion of piracy of software, most of which is typically under five years old.
    Until the slashdot crowd, collectively (and I'm not saying that all slashdotters think alike, but you'd be just throwing more smoke and mirrors if you were to not believe that there weren't some rather commonly held views here along the lines I am suggesting and that those views have widely seen to be synonymous with a general 'slashdot look on life'), is willing to face up to the real issues instead of throwing up more kneejerk smoke and mirrors, it will continue to be an intellectually dishonest sideshow.
    • As always, the elephant in the room (that piracy is substantial and deserves attention, if only because society has collectively devleoped a bargain where creators of intellectual property are entitled to reasonable protection of their works but that protection is being circumvented in massive quantities) is ignored.

      Another elephant in the room is "are technical measures to prevent copying actually being circumvented in massive quantities by potential customers?", and another is "do we need additional legal
  • by Cruise_WD (410599) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @08:54AM (#16750659) Homepage
    At least, not in the limited context of this article. Sure, in the wider scope of the whole debate - whether the RIAA should be fighting this war on piracy or not - demands at least some consideration of where along the moral line downloading copyrighted materials lies.

    In reference to this specific article, however, the salient points would appear to be:

    1) The RIAA are using deceit and subterfuge as weapons.
    2) A body that has influence on policy decisions noticed.

    This naturally hurts the RIAA, but to what degree, and for how long, remains to be seen, and might be a more fruitful use of the /. hivemind.
  • Honestly, now! It's "cited".
    • by geobeck (924637)

      The draft...sighted by The Australian...

      Honestly, now! It's "cited".

      No, no. He means that John Howard saw the draft.

      He was reported as saying, "Yeah, that's a draft. Now where's my draught?"

  • There have been many articles (industry-sponsored and otherwise) about "piracy", whether the content is music or software (or even data). The article seems so very much like articles about music (music that isn't paid for when used/received)... The responses to the article are pretty similar, too.

    Therefore, I propose a new way to answer software piracy articles, such that the flooding hundreds of discussion posts will all align nicely.

    I propose that we post answers like, "software wants to be free - the
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by smoker2 (750216)
      When you start receiving the kind of money that rock/pop stars and film actors/producers receive, then your statements might be serious. Until then even your sarcasm is deluded.

      How many Ferraris do you expect to aquire from being a programmer, and in how long ? How many multi-million dollar mansions do you expect to own from the proceeds of programming ?

      Do you think you or anybody else is really worth that much more than anybody else, that they receive these things by governmental fief ? Do you really thi

Dennis Ritchie is twice as bright as Steve Jobs, and only half wrong. -- Jim Gettys

Working...