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Feds Question Big Media's Piracy Claims

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the show-me-the-losses dept.

Government 261

WrongSizeGlass writes "CNET is reporting that the GAO's study of big media's piracy claims has raised some questions. (Here are the study's summary, highlights [PDF], and full report [PDF].) 'After spending a year studying how piracy and illegal counterfeiting affects the United States, the Government Accountability Office says it still doesn't know for sure.... The GAO said that most of the published information, anecdotal evidence, and records show that piracy is a drag on the US economy, tax revenue, and in some cases potentially threatens national security and public health. But the problem is, according to the GAO, the data used to quantify piracy isn't reliable.'"

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Of Course! (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31835560)

Frist Psot!

TROLL (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31835562)

LOL!

Not reliable? (3, Funny)

odin84gk (1162545) | more than 4 years ago | (#31835572)

So... It was stolen data?

Re:Not reliable? (4, Informative)

nacturation (646836) | more than 4 years ago | (#31835680)

More likely the RIAA/MPAA/BSA/TLA took a sampling of total users connected to a popular torrent and compared that to the total people downloading pirated material from BitTorrent and then extrapolated that to the entire US population to show that everyone's a pirate.

Re:Not reliable? (4, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836112)

More likely the RIAA/MPAA/BSA/TLA took a sampling of total users connected to a popular torrent and compared that to the total people downloading pirated material from BitTorrent and then extrapolated that to the entire US population to show that everyone's a pirate.

Sounds like the Federal "study" that was done by the NHTSA. Ever heard the claim that ~50% of all fatal crash accidents involved alcohol? Guess how they arrived at that number? They included accidents wherein passengers had alcohol in their systems, even though the drivers were completely sober.

Lies, damn lies and statistics.

Re:Not reliable? (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836296)

They included accidents wherein passengers had alcohol in their systems, even though the drivers were completely sober.

Seeing as you are discrediting this as a legit addition to the statistics, you have obviously never driven with a passenger who was whacked out of their gourd.

Re:Not reliable? (4, Informative)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836360)

you have obviously never driven with a passenger who was whacked out of their gourd.

The criteria for the study was a BAC of >=0.05. I don't know what your friends are like when they drink, but mine have to drink considerably more than that to get "whacked out of their gourd".

Re:Not reliable? (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836520)

For the most part, mine do as well, except for this one friend of mine...for the sake of anonymity, let's just call him "Bill". "Bill" is a hulking, massive guy...6'2", 260 pounds, 25 years of age. Has a small gut on him, but for the most part "Bill" is built like an 18-wheeler with legs.

Three shots of whiskey, and he is wobbly. Four shots, and he can't stand. Five shots max, he passes out.

No joke. We would make fun of him for it if we weren't afraid of being snapped in half like a toothpick.

Re:Not reliable? (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836580)

The existence of such people as your friend does not justify the manipulation of statistics in the manner that I previously described.

Re:Not reliable? (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836692)

I completely agree...I just think it's hilarious that a Herculean-size friend of mine drinks like a 100 pound high school chick :-)

Re:Not reliable? (2, Informative)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836990)

It's usually a matter of tolerance. I asked a police officer what the highest BAC he had ever seen was. He told a story about pulling someone over for a broken taillight, she wasn't driving badly and he had no indication that she was intoxicated. When he reached the car he smelled booze and went through the process. She passed all of the field sobriety checks but failed the breath test -- with a 0.61!

A BAC of 0.4 is the LD50 for alcohol. Most people will pass out at BACs exceeding 0.2. Yet this woman was "sober" enough at 0.61 to pass the sobriety checks and operate a motor vehicle. Turns out she had a number of previous DWIs and a bit of a drinking problem. She had consumed alcohol for so long that her body built up a near super-human tolerance for it.

Re:Not reliable? (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836668)

Sorry to reply twice, but your friend would also have a fairly decent BAC after four shots of 80 proof spirits. If he did them all within an hour his BAC would be 0.068 according to this site [rupissed.com] . That's enough to get you a "driving while ability impaired" in NYS. Some people can handle it better than others though.

Re:Not reliable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31836340)

I'm sure they also must have included cases were the responding paramedics and police had alcohol in their system as well.

Re:Not reliable? (4, Funny)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836366)

They included accidents wherein passengers had alcohol in their systems, even though the drivers were completely sober.

I was going to make a joke about the effects of "second-hand alcohol" on the driver, but grossed myself out thinking about it...

Re:Not reliable? (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836418)

And they all involved DHMO!

DHMO KILLS!

Re:Not reliable? (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836514)

Well duh, what do you think the ice cubes are made out of?

Re:Not reliable? (1)

sabt-pestnu (967671) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836836)

I looked at this NHTSA page [dot.gov] , but didn't see such a study listed. Could you point me to the study you are talking about in particular?

Re:Not reliable? (4, Interesting)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836936)

They included accidents wherein passengers had alcohol in their systems, even though the drivers were completely sober.

And regardless of which car the person who had been drinking is in.

As in: You're stopped at a red light, passenger in your back seat had a couple drinks, and some douche talking on their cell phone rear-ends you. That counts as an alcohol-related accident.

Re:Not reliable? (3, Interesting)

Old97 (1341297) | more than 4 years ago | (#31837020)

Its a bit worse than that in the U.S. actually. Accidents that are commonly associated with alcohol abuse, i.e. single car accidents at night when the car goes off the road and hits a tree, are also counted as alcohol related with or without any evidence that alcohol or any substance was involved at all. If you fall asleep at the wheel hit a tree and die, that is counted as alcohol-related.

Re:Not reliable? (0)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836852)

>>>More likely the RIAA/MPAA/BSA/TLA took a sampling of total users connected to a popular torrent and compared that to the total people downloading pirated material from BitTorrent and then extrapolated that to the entire US population to show that everyone's a pirate.
>>>

That's essentially how the US Census arrived at the "42.5 million uninsured" stat. Except their sampling came from ~5000 mail-in surveys multiplied by 60,000 to arrive at that number..... non-scientific at best and wholly inaccurate. That's one of the flaws with our government: It uses numbers that are about as reliable as guessing.

Or else they design the data collection to produce the result they want, such as the FCC Broadband test which is generating slower speeds than what people actually get. They clocked me at 450kbit/s when I really have 750k. The FCC will assume I am "broadband poor" but in reality I'm happy with what I've got.

In any case:

I don't trust these GAO piracy numbers. They are biased, nonscientific, and inflated. But sadly they'll problably be quoted by politicians during the election, in order to justify why the ACTA Treaty needs to be passed.

Re:Not reliable? (0, Offtopic)

thrillseeker (518224) | more than 4 years ago | (#31835744)

They're going to get some recently unemployed climate scientists to clean it all up.

More like inflated data (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31835966)

Its no secret that the RIAA/MPAA have been putting up fake torrents to catch pirates for years. When you take that into account, you can easily inflate the number of "pirates" to near unrealistic numbers.

Company A sets up a torrent hosting a fake copy of Avatar with 1000 seeds, 10000 leechers and 1,000,000 completed downloads.
Company B does a basic search for "Avatar torrent", sees Company A's torrent and records it.
Company C, which owns Company A and Company B, then goes to the U.S. government and claims "We lost over a MILLION Avatar sales from piracy! We demand a government bailout!"

Re:More like inflated data (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31836294)

Oh hey, I've been nabbed by one of those before...

Re:Not reliable? (3, Interesting)

scalarscience (961494) | more than 4 years ago | (#31835990)

Actually my guess is that this is how they're going to finally 'open up' about the ACTA. They need justification to pollute the airwaves/media outlets with false claims that there is no hard data on 'how bad this problem is' since we can't yet track the statistics via beurocracy, so therefore we need mechanisms like 3-strikes so that we can begin to collect info on 'how bad things really are'.

Just ask (5, Funny)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 4 years ago | (#31835638)

Just ask the RIAA for their data on piracy. They should have accurate information.

Self interest (5, Insightful)

Coopjust (872796) | more than 4 years ago | (#31835642)

Of course they're going to use whatever statistics, presented in whatever fashion, to make you think that if you don't legislate everything to maximize their old businesses model without change, that everyone will suffer for it.

It's common sense not to take the RIAA/MPAA at their word. Not just because of their previous questionable tactics (suing individuals, scare campaigns,etc.), and how wrong they have been(like the MPAA saying that the VHS would be "the Boston Strangler" of the film industry when it expanded their market tremendously)... they're going to hate anything that, in their view, has a negative impact on their revenue.

Re:Self interest (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31836126)

Well since they lied, I now feel justified in pirating everything. Isn't that how it's supposed to work? Their shitty behavior means my shitty behavior is OK now, right?

Re:Self interest (4, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836328)

As a very good friend of mine likes to say, "Treat people as you would like to be treated...unless they betray you. Then you treat them however the fuck you want."

Re:Self interest (2, Insightful)

schon (31600) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836308)

they're going to hate anything that, in their view, has a negative impact on their revenue.

Not quite - they're going to hate anything that might cause them to change their business model, regardless of the impact (positive or negative) to their revenue.

Their business model is based on control. Anything that causes them to lose *any* amount of that control - even if it means they make more money - will be viewed unfavourably by them.

Re:Self interest (2, Informative)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836344)

TFR in TFA didn't come to the same conclusions as the RIAA. They mostly said "there aren't enough data to kinow" and pointed out a lot of stuff you've read at slashdot that points out that piracy may actually be helpful to the media industry.

They were, however, down on knockoffs, such as fake airplane parts and the like.

Re:Self interest (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836834)

It's common sense not to take the RIAA/MPAA at their word. Not just because of their previous questionable tactics (suing individuals, scare campaigns,etc.), and how wrong they have been(like the MPAA saying that the VHS would be "the Boston Strangler" of the film industry when it expanded their market tremendously)... they're going to hate anything that, in their view, has a negative impact on their revenue.

They think that everybody is spending heaps of energy looking for ways to not pay them for stuff. I'll never forget their claim (Hillary Rosen, if memory serves) that two billion songs floated around the net a month. A month or two after that announcement, record profits for the year. Just imagine their steady increase of income suddenly doubling if copy-restriction magically worked!

In Soviet Amerika (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31835664)

Big media piracy question Feds.

Get used to it. Capitalism is dead. Corporate socialism is alive and well [unrulymedia.com] .

Re:In Soviet Amerika (5, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836142)

Get used to it. Capitalism is dead. Corporate socialism is alive and well [unrulymedia.com].

That's not entirely true. Profits are still privatized. We've only socialized failure.....

Re:In Soviet Amerika (1)

wonkavader (605434) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836462)

"Profits are still privatized. We've only socialized failure."

No, we've also socialized the costs.

Re:In Soviet Amerika (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31836346)

Actually it's called Fascism. And not the slur that those on the 'left' throw at those on the 'right' usually after being called a communist or terrorist.

From Wikipedia

Fascists seek to organize a nation on corporatist perspectives; values; and systems such as the political system and the economy.

Pretty much what we have in this country, when most of the congress critters admit to not reading the bill they're sponsoring (or voting on), but just passing along whatever some lobbyist handed over with a sack of cash.

Re:In Soviet Amerika (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31836800)

Get with the times man. They are now calling it the "Tea Party".

Re:In Soviet Amerika (1)

Miseph (979059) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836524)

I think the term you're looking for is "compulsory consumerism". It's not socialism unless you buy from the government, and last I checked they aren't selling media or health care/insurance (obviously I'm talking about the US on that count). Now that we have to buy health insurance from private corporations in order to keep them solvent, how long before we have to buy media from private corporations in order to keep them solvent?

I can envision a future where all Americans are required to buy into some sort of ASCAP-like program (and there would be several "competing" providers so that you could shop around for the "best" rates, and different plans for different consumption levels: you know better than some bureaucrat whether you'll listen to 1 song this month, or 100) for an astronomical fee, or else be subject to fines for "pirating" media content... just hearing a song on the radio -even someone else's radio- or seeing an ad on a TV in a storefront would qualify.

Republicans would of course sabotage any attempt to provide a government-run option, knowing that private industry is always better at everything and always provides services at lower prices, and because of deep and entirely valid concerns that operating a business which involves receiving a sum of money and disbursing a smaller sum of money would drive the government into bankruptcy or require a rise in tax levels, thus ensuring that these private corporations would never have to fear competition from an entity at least nominally beholden to anything except for profits. Democrats would allow them to do so, on the condition that they can still force people to buy things whether they want them or not, and provided that they could make the announcement that they are the Good Guys (tm) who defeated the pirates and will now guarantee that no American ever goes bankrupt from buying movie tickets or being sued by the RIAA again.

I give it 15 years or so.

A Lady Gaga Video is your cite? (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836594)

I'm very very confused. Your link is to a Lady Gaga video - "Telephone". Not that I'm against seeing hot chicks dancing and Gaga's music is pretty damn good (she's actually a very gifted classical musician), but what's your point?

Re:In Soviet Amerika (0, Flamebait)

Kattspya (994189) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836622)

Corporate socialism is logically impossible, you idiot.

Thinking about the popularity of D&D (3, Interesting)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31835674)

You know, despite the seemingly ultranerdy reputation of Dungeons and Dragons, there are actually quite a few un-nerdy people who play it. Skipping past a slew of big names, I think one super-cool, hyper-athletic example is enough. Vin Diesel. This guy, who plays total badasses in his movies, is actually a laid back D&D player in his spare time.

How can you effectively attack a position without a comprehensive understanding of it? If you want to say piracy is not leading to a decline in sales, then you need real numbers to back it up. For all the vitriol we throw around here on /., there is a whole lot of anecdotal posturing, but not a whole lot of solid numbers. The same goes both ways, of course, and I'm ecstatic to see the GAO investigating these claims.

Let's lay myths to rest. The truth is where we must start from, not from our foundation of biases. As long as you think that D&D is just for loser nerds, you'll never be able to understand the game and its enthusiastic audience.

Re:Thinking about the popularity of D&D (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31835728)

And this has something to do with D&D because?????

Re:Thinking about the popularity of D&D (2, Informative)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#31835804)

It's a nerd-friendly example about questioning assumptions which GP is using to illustrate his point... about questioning assumptions, which is what the GOA report seems to be doing.

Re:Thinking about the popularity of D&D (5, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#31835884)

Look at his name.

Laid back? (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#31835864)

I think you may be assuming something about D&D players. I never played myself, but I remember seeing people turn it into a full-contact sport.

(Just a matter of fact that I never played it. If I had, I wouldn't be ashamed to say so. Just never really got the chance.)

Oh, and that's a really bad analogy, guy.

Offtopic? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31836010)

Mods, are you sure about that?

Unconventional, maybe. But certainly not off-topic.

Re:Thinking about the popularity of D&D (0, Offtopic)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836032)

Mr. AnalogyGuy,

If you simply swapped the first and second paragraphs, you probably would have been modded insightful (or at least "Troll") rather than offtopic. Mods rarely make it past the first paragraph before making their decision on topicality.

Chinatown.... (1)

irreverant (1544263) | more than 4 years ago | (#31835684)

No more going to china town to get great dim sum and a new movie for a buck. .... Xie xie Mr. Wong

Should it include (2, Interesting)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 4 years ago | (#31835696)

Should piracy claims include finding copies of "Star Trek" on hard drives you bought as Best Buys?

Re:Should it include (4, Funny)

bmo (77928) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836102)

Every hard disk not sold by Paramount will be counted as 20 incidents of piracy.

--
BMO

It's about fucking time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31835704)

n/t

Re:It's about fucking time (2, Funny)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836794)

really? I thought that time wasn't until later tonight.

God. some common sense from an us. govt agency (3, Interesting)

unity100 (970058) | more than 4 years ago | (#31835706)

apparently they werent able to fill that agency full to the brim with lobby endorsed appointees yet.

Re:God. some common sense from an us. govt agency (1)

carp3_noct3m (1185697) | more than 4 years ago | (#31835844)

Yet being the keyword here.

Re:God. some common sense from an us. govt agency (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836722)

Or maybe is the RIAA beginning to be short on bribe money ?

Who's the real 40,000 Ton Metallic Monster? (3, Insightful)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31835734)

Let's say that I leave my 1995 Toyota Corolla running outside the Best Buy one day. I come back with my $4 copy of "The Frighteners" to find that my car has been STOLEN! I then file a police report that says my car was worth $6 million... would I be busted for filing a false police report?

Re:Who's the real 40,000 Ton Metallic Monster? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31835784)

Let's say that I leave my 1995 Toyota Corolla running outside the Best Buy one day. I come back with my $4 copy of "The Frighteners" to find that my car has been STOLEN! I then file a police report that says my car was worth $6 million... would I be busted for filing a false police report?

No, let's say that you come back and there is an exact duplicate of your car. You have your movie and your car. If you reported your car stolen and asked for $6 million....

Re:Who's the real 40,000 Ton Metallic Monster? (5, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 4 years ago | (#31835860)

I then file a police report that says my car was worth $6 million... would I be busted for filing a false police report?

Of course not. I mean, you -did- have a few CDs in the glove box didn't you? That's what 100+ tracks that you have just unlawfully redistributed (and you recklessly assisted in this by leaving the car running)... oh ... wait, yes that would be a false police report. Your losses are closer to $200 Million.

Re:Who's the real 40,000 Ton Metallic Monster? (0, Offtopic)

icedcool (446975) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836204)

Hmmm... yea... your going to have to MOD PARENT IRONICALLY BRILLIANT.

Bollocks (4, Insightful)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#31835736)

I'd bet that the RIAA's settlement devouring extortion machine is doing more damage to the economy than the piracy is...

Bad Dog! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31835752)

So much for not biting the hand that feeds you.... Hmm, maybe they're just trying to get them to up their bribes, sorry I mean campaign contributions to match that of the pharmaceutical industry, then they'll release an update stating that it's even worse then they thought.

As a rule of thumb... (3, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 4 years ago | (#31835764)

Any self-serving statistic which sounds too big for the group that it's associated with is false. 40% losses from piracy? Unrealistic. 25% of all American women have been raped? Not even close (there'd be more rape victims than all other crimes in most jurisdictions then).

Re:As a rule of thumb... (2, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836572)

Well, that's the thing. You can't tell how many women have been raped, only how many have reported being raped. You can't tell how many people smoke pot, you can't tell how many hookers there are, and there's no way of knowing how many pirates there are and what their motivations for piracy are. A pirated tune or movie may turn into more than one sale, there's just no way of knowing.

Re:As a rule of thumb... (0, Offtopic)

tibit (1762298) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836598)

If you consider intramarital rape too, then I'm not surprised. Basically every time when woman says "no, I don't want to have sex now", yet she is forced to do it. I'd even consider 25% to be lowballed.

threatens national security and public health (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#31835798)

Translation: threatens secret "negotiations" and smoke filled rooms.

The article (2, Insightful)

Sumbius (1500703) | more than 4 years ago | (#31835808)

Correct if I'm wrong, but doesn't the report mostly concern forged counterweight products and forged products that are sold as genuine? Sure, this also includes the good old pirate dvds that are sold, but it doesn't seem to give much attention to p2p pirating and such. It's mostly about pharmaceutical products.

Re:The article (4, Informative)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836200)

In what appears to be a setback for Hollywood and the recording industry, the government said that it sees problems with the methodology used in studies those sectors have long relied on to support claims that piracy was destructive to their businesses. The accountability office even noted the existence of data that shows piracy may benefit consumers in some cases.

Re:The article (1)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836918)

From the GAO summary:

"counterfeiting and piracy have produced a wide range of effects on consumers, industry, government, and the economy as a whole, depending on the type of infringements involved and other factors...Consumers are particularly likely to experience negative effects when they purchase counterfeit products they believe are genuine...Some consumers may knowingly purchase counterfeits that are less expensive than the genuine goods and experience positive effects (consumer surplus), although the longer-term impact is unclear due to reduced incentives for research and development, among other factors"

yeah, seems like the study spent a lot of time on the things that the laws were intended to focus on: counterfeit products, and commercial counterfeiting operations.

Would be nice if it mentioned the specific difference between non-commercial and commercial counterfeiting/piracy.

Duh! (4, Insightful)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 4 years ago | (#31835810)

...the data used to quantify piracy isn't reliable.

Um, I'm not sure how to say "DUH!" without sounding like a smartass so, well, let's just call me a smartass.

DUH!

Seriously, of course the data is unreliable - it was paid for by the media corporations in an obscure and twisted mass circle of references that would make any academia's head spin. I hope and pray that this investigation is treated seriously and delves deep enough to find the truth that the numbers that the media corporations have been bandying about for years now are all bogus.

I think everyone would be fine discussing piracy and it's impact on the industries involved just so long as _REAL AND ACCURATE_ numbers were used rather than the trumped up bullshit that we've seen so far.

TM vs TOM! (1)

ChinggisK (1133009) | more than 4 years ago | (#31835922)

So basically, The Man is now arguing against The Other Man. Sweet.

Re:TM vs TOM! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31837052)

Basically, what they're saying is now that the media has put obama on the throne, the regular bribe^Wlobbying rates have now gone up, and that had better cough up if they want to continue talking rights away from the public to increase their own corporate coffers.

A second problem... (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31835962)

In addition to the fact that most "piracy" numbers are little more than self-serving bullshit, still warm from the asses of entertainment lobbyists from which they were pulled, is the fact that they all too frequently aggregate multiple flavors of "piracy", each with its own distinct properties.

For instance, the only way that "piracy" in the sense of "bittorrent kiddies" can threaten public health is by lowering the cost of sedentary entertainment that helps make us lardasses. On the other hand, "piracy" in the sense of "misrepresenting your sugar pills as some copyrighted/trademarked drug" can and does kill people. Similarly, the idea that bittorrent kiddies are of the slightest use to organized crime is silly. If anything, they are the lower-cost competition. On the other hand, buying poorly-copied DVDs from the shady looking street vendor probably does funnel money in dubiously savory directions.

I assume that this aggregation is largely intentional, allowing a sort of "rhetorical shuffle", where the scariest aspects of each flavor can be pulled out in turn, to create a composite that sounds far worse than it is. Talking about prevalence? Use numbers drawn from casual internet piracy and schoolyard swapping of burned CDs. Talking about risks to life and health? Answer as though all "piracy" involved fake medicine. Playing the "gangs and terrorists" angle? describe all piracy as though it were being conducted commercially by cartels. If you slip from one to the next, without ever clearly distinguishing them, you can fairly easily create an impression that "piracy" has all the worst attributes of its sub-elements.

Re:A second problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31836498)

Wanna emphasize cruelty? Tell everyone that pirates used to plunder and sink ships, often killing everyone on board.

They Need to Write a Distinction into Their Study (4, Insightful)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 4 years ago | (#31835964)

The GAO needs to say, in very explicit terms, just what they are referring to as piracy. For instance, are they talking about the folk that knock off DVDs, repackage them in semi-legitimate looking boxes by the thousands, and pawn them off on the streets and on Ebay? Or are they talking about the folk that torrent [Insert Latest Blockbuster Title Here]. The summary and highlights both talk about risks and issues such as pirated, knock-off pharmaceuticals being a safety problem (although the scope of the issue, they admit, is hard to determine). That's all fine and dandy and more data and investigation certainly does need to be conducted.

However, the GAO needs to be very strict in saying that, "These harmful effects are caused, particularly, by these harmful activities." Using the blanket term piracy just screams for some bastards at the RIAA/MPAA to hold up investigations like this in some PR forum and say, "See, it really is a problem, we're not just pissing into the wind! Neener, neener, neener," when, in fact, the investigation may be looking into an entirely different market, like the above cited case of pharmaceuticals. I don't have the time to read the full report, yet, but I hope the GAO will be responsible enough to be very clear about which activities, precisely, seem to be correlated with which results. The less they use the term, "piracy," which is a term that has been completely bloated, raped, and thrashed over the past decade or so, the better.

Of course, this is just my opinion.

Re:They Need to Write a Distinction into Their Stu (4, Insightful)

ChinggisK (1133009) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836154)

I think you misread the summary. The GAO is saying that while there are lots of reports that show piracy is this big problem, those reports are based on studies that are total BS. The RIAA/MPAA most certainly does not want anyone pointing to this.

Also, the article in the first link says that the GAO investigation is looking into *all* forms of piracy, other than the Somalian kind of course.

Re:They Need to Write a Distinction into Their Stu (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31837024)

Also, the article in the first link says that the GAO investigation is looking into *all* forms of piracy, other than the Somalian kind of course.

Awesome! I'm going to start up a Somalia-based DVD copying operation, and I'll totally fly under their radar!

Re:They Need to Write a Distinction into Their Stu (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 4 years ago | (#31837080)

No, I got that in the summary and in the linked to PDFs. My point was that I don't think either the RIAA or the MPAA are ethical enough to keep themselves from citing the first part of this study of evidence of a big problem. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to quote the first half of the summary that acknowledges that current data shows piracy is a problem. Then, by conveniently not mentioning the latter part of the study that acknowledges such data is inaccurate, any agency can pretty easily say, "See, we have this government sponsored investigation that quite clearly states...."

Context is everything, and if there is one thing that PR firms have demonstrated time and again its that they can spin up negative publicity by removing whatever context they want. We see news shows and corporations and other entities do this all the time. These tactics, I would wager, are far from being below the RIAA/MPAA.

That said, I am hoping the GAO reiterates their second point, that current studies are total BS, enough times throughout the report that such clever presentation tactics would be moot.

Re:They Need to Write a Distinction into Their Stu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31836600)

The GAO needs to say, in very explicit terms, just what they are referring to as piracy.

Let's see... from page 6 of the report:

“Pirated copyright goods” refer to any goods that are copies made without the consent of the right holder or person duly authorized by the right holder. “Counterfeit goods” refer to any goods, including packaging or bearing without authorization, a trademark that is identical to a trademark validly registered for those goods, or that cannot be distinguished in its essential aspects from such a trademark, and that, thereby, infringes the rights of the owner of the trademark in question.

That wasn't too hard, was it?

Re:They Need to Write a Distinction into Their Stu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31836724)

What always bothers me is how the industry (take your pick) claims it as a "lost sale" every time something is pirated.

Admittedly, sales are lost, to some degree. But let me ask you this. Would you really pay $600 for Adobe Photoshop if you couldn't pirate it elsewhere? If the answer is "YES", then it's a lost sale. If the answer is "Hell no, I don't use it enough for it to be worth $600 to me", then it isn't. Now, as the price of legitimate purchases goes down, maybe the numbers are (a little) more realistic, but I doubt it.

You don't say... (5, Funny)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836008)

the data used to quantify piracy isn't reliable

Ya think, DiNozzo?

Confused? I know i am. (1)

Neuroticwhine (1024687) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836034)

I don't begin to understand why this report was put out, specifically while the ACTA talks are currently ongoing. A part of me wants to believe that this is another bright flash of hope in the otherwise murky sea that is US politics, but i find myself considering how this could possibly benefit the "citizens^2" that are corporate entities. It's a sad day when a single act of (seemingly) intelligence on behalf of my government is automatically met with suspicion and doubt.

While i'm sure this isn't the case, but it would be nice if this was a sign of the **AA's, either not having the money to buy out (enough) government officials, or not having enough money to ask, what i can assume to be intelligent people (there are some in politics), to blind themselves to reality.

With that said i have a small garden of apathy i need to tend to.

Re:Confused? I know i am. (2, Insightful)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 4 years ago | (#31837018)

Ars has a piece on it too that sheds a little light on it:
http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2010/04/us-government-finally-admits-most-piracy-estimates-are-bogus.ars [arstechnica.com]

Why is the government even looking into this issue? It's all due to the PRO-IP Act, which passed under President Bush and has led President Obama to appoint an Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator within the White House. Part of the IPEC's duties include gathering data on piracy and counterfeiting, and current IPEC Victoria Espinel is now rounding up that data. The GAO report is part of this process, and it certainly doesn't make industry estimates look compelling.

This is ironic for a bill that was backed by the big rightsholders; even its acronym, the PRO-IP Act, shows what it was supposed to do. But, by hauling the black art of "piracy surveys" into the light, the PRO-IP Act is forcing rightsholders to tone down some of their more specific and alarmist rhetoric.

I get music for free online! (5, Insightful)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836060)

"There's no doubt that the music industry has declined significantly over the last 10 years," Lamy said. "Countless studies have blamed this on the fact that millions of people have been getting their music for free online. That has translated to thousands of lost jobs in the industry and that's undeniable."

I get music for free online!

I get free samples from iTunes every week.

I get free music from magnatune.com every day.

I get free samples distributed directly by the artists and advertised on 3hive.com.

I don't buy as many CDs because there's so much legally distributed good music online. I buy music online as well, but not as much as I used to buy CDs, and I usually only buy a couple of tracks instead of the whole album. So I don't need to pirate music for my demand for the traditional music distributor's high-overhead services to go down.

I don't buy a newspaper any more, because I get better and more timely news online, some through reprinted wire services, some through independent journalists. I'm not "pirating news" any more than I'm "pirating music". I can see how this is a problem, but it's not a problem that's going to be solved by writing stricter laws or putting people into jail... or by charging newspaper prices for digital news. The internet makes distributing information more efficient. Businesses based on a percentage of older more expensive distribution mechanisms are going to have to change or adapt... but trying to use the law to attack a decreasingly important part of the problem isn't going to solve it. It's not going to magically become more expensive to distribute bits... it's going to get cheaper. There's going to be less and less overhead to get your margin from as the industry gets more efficient.

IP restrictions probably more harmful (4, Insightful)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836086)

Piracy affects distribution sales somewhat, yes. But the other half of what recording companies do is promotion, which involves controlling how new artists appear on the scene and building up their audience by airing stuff on the radio, movies, and elsewhere. Cultural art like music and movies don't really follow the classic supply/demand rules... the more people are exposed to a song (that doesn't suck too much) the more it enters their consciousness and they want to hear it again. So really they can make or break an artist merely by planning their promotion schedule and exposure, a measure of control they probably don't want to give up.

A pretty good way to save on entertainment expenses is simply to not listen to the radio or watch TV. I've barely had any impulse to buy any album or movie for the past few years, and also no budget for entertainment.

Some time ago I did start listening to some internet radio, and ended up hunting down and purchasing stuff from some artists I found I liked. But without exposure to the promotion, either through piracy or through encountering the music on the radio or ads or wherever, the product had no demand from or apparent value to me. So I believe it's more the cultural control that the RIAA is intent on protecting, rather than the distribution revenue. Piracy erodes more at their control of cultural contributions through authorized channels than at their sales revenue (which mostly goes to people without the money budgeted to buy the retail version anyway, and which only serves to increase their interest in the product).

They're approaching this all wrong.... IP law needs to be rewritten to protect the future rather than the past; attitudes need to change so that people choose retail over piracy or counterfeit because they want to somehow support the artist's future work, and some approach should still allow the freeloaders to freeload, since not much is going to change them and the present-day battle for their mindshare is probably worth more than their walletshare.

"IP law needs to be rewritten (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836400)

to protect the future rather than the past"

most insightful 14 words i've heard so far this year

i would like to coopt, exploit, and otherwise steal your brilliant campaign slogan, with attribution of course ;-)

Re:IP restrictions probably more harmful (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836420)

I get a lot of tips on music from "Questionable Content" webcomic.

The artist/writer adds little comments about the new indie bands he's listening to and likes.

I like less music as I go from the 60's to the 00's. The indie stuff is often quite good and is maybe 50/50.

Many of the songs from the older days you can recognize from the first riff-- some songs today, it's really hard for me too tell which song it is for 30 seconds and even when it starts being different, it still sounds the same.

There is a lot less experimentation with instruments these days. That's part of why I like "Blue October".

Ironically, I was introduced to them via a pirated CD-- and have sense bought a lot of product / concert items.

WTF? Are you kidding me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31836212)

So copyright infringement of entertainment content is now possibly a threat to National Security?

What fucking world did I just wake up to?

I am so shocked! (2, Insightful)

Angst Badger (8636) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836240)

If you can't trust gigantic corporations that make their money off of producing artificial scarcity from imaginary property, who can you trust?

Whom to trust... (1)

navygeek (1044768) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836252)

But can we trust the ones that are potentially discounting the 'unreliable' data? Truly everyone knows that one in 7.2 government employees is a Sasquatch. And if they're hiding that from us, what else are they less than truthsome about?

try before you buy (2, Insightful)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836266)

it would be interesting if they did a study on how much more people buy when they are able to try it first. Anecdotal evidence of big media's best Customers are also the ones they are labeling pirates. I bet even if there was no internet they would not get many more sales from these Customers.

it's called "radio", RIAA assholes (4, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836286)

once upon a time, there was this communist terrorist unpatriotic business model called "radio"

they would play songs, get this, FOR FREE. anyone could hear it without having to pay money and signing away their rights! can you imagine something so socialist and unamerican?!

then this would create DEMAND for more of the artist's product

of course, in the era of radio, the demand was for vinyl and cassette tapes

but here's the funny thing:

in the age of the internet, the "radio" is the browser and the listening area is the entire world

and the publisher IS THE ARTIST HIM/HERSELF. no distributor needed

and the demand created is for paid concert gigs, advertising endorsements, personalized content, etc.

what is this wacky unamerican world?

i would think it best be called a free and unfettered marketplace: unfettered by an OLIGOPOLY or a MONOPOLY

see the big lie, RIAA, is you are not preserving american financial interests. you are preserving an entrenched oligopoly that simply isn't needed anymore in the age of the internet, and your death means more free and unfettered capitalism, without any oversight and intrusion. i think some people call this "american"

imagine that

corporate interests != free market. and as any student of economic history knows, the true enemy of capitalism is not communism or socialism, it is monopolies and oligopolies strangling the market to dominate it

in short RIAA: the interests you defend represent a distribution economy which has been rendered technologically obsolete, AND you hamper the free market place, AND now you wish to intrude on individual rights enshrined in our constitution in order to preserve your technologically obsolete business model. how about this instead: FUCK OFF AND DIE ALREADY

you've been rendered obsolete. deal with it and die. that is your only fate, whether you accept it or not. it does not reflect well on you to be so thoroughly and inevitably defeated and not know it yet

Re:it's called "radio", RIAA assholes (0, Flamebait)

KharmaWidow (1504025) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836476)

While I generally agree with you, your argument is riddled with fallacies, half truths, falsehoods, and immaturity.

immaturity: yes (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836866)

falsehoods, half truths, and fallacies: no

tell me exactly where my depiction is logically incorrect, and i will correct myself, or, in the spirit of my glorious immaturity, fuck off

Re:it's called "radio", RIAA assholes (1)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836934)

Bad theory.

One, radio isn't free - stations sell advertising time to companies, and then use that money to purchase the rights to play the music (or whatever) to draw you into listening to their station so you can hear the ads.

How about pro-rating the benefits of piracy (1)

Phizzle (1109923) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836318)

into that equation? I am sure some statistics can be made up about pirated media converting into incremental sales that otherwise would not have happened. What about media that got advertised because it was pirated, what was the ROI on that vs the insane rates legitimate advertisers charge? Quantify!

It's about shoes, not music (2, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836480)

Read the actual report. The big "piracy" problem is fake copies of shoes and handbags. That isn't even a copyright issue; that's a trademark issue.

You can legally copy garments; the only legal protection is for logos. So it's not even about the design.

Re:It's about shoes, not music (1)

belmolis (702863) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836872)

That's currently true, but the fashion industry has been trying to get Congress to create a kind of copyright on fashion designs.

Re:It's about shoes, not music (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836884)

That isn't even a copyright issue; that's a trademark issue.

      Er no, designs are copyrighted.

what the GAO thinks piracy is... (0, Redundant)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836488)

I'm glad the GAO is treating piracy as what it is. Downloading of content from the Internet for personal consumption is not piracy.

creating physical media copies of infringed content IS one form of piracy.

I'm glad the GAO actually takes seriously the real threats posed by counterfeiting of goods like pharmaceuticals and luxury items.

The gears are moving! (2, Funny)

TerrenceCoggins (1601371) | more than 4 years ago | (#31836734)

So the GAO is setting its sights on big media's piracy FUD machine? Hurrah! I can see it now: The GAO or some other trustworthy government organization that's outside of the music/film industries' influence will oversee a comprehensive study done on the matter. After gladly washing down this hardy serving of humble pie with a cold glass of milk, big media will offer up their entire content library for free over streaming HTML5 video in OGG 1080p with a bit of help from axxo and the gang. As for this ACTA? It'll have a public funeral at last (despite already having the support of more powerful government agencies and branches) at which US, Chinese, AU, EU, the Pope, Muslim leaders and other world and religious leaders will get together and announce an end to nuculear proliferation, a way to kill global warming faster than Orkin kills roaches, and a cure for world hunger that involves magical gum-drops of some sort...

Do they report piracy losses as tax writeoffs? (3, Interesting)

mykos (1627575) | more than 4 years ago | (#31837100)

I'd seriously like to know. If they honestly believe piracy is hurting their business and that their data is sound, they should put it on their taxes as a business loss. The IRS will sort it out.
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