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back to article Music industry cooks UK government's piracy stats

The government's dizzying statistic that over seven million Brits are involved in online piracy comes from dubious research commissioned by the music industry itself. When the UK government advisory body, the Strategic Advisory Board for Intellectual Property, released an 85-page report in May pronouncing billions of pounds …

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Stop

Used file-sharing sw

But did they take into account the number of people who used file-sharing software totally legally. Using their assumptions, I would place that figure to be around the 90% mark of all users of file-sharing software.

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FAIL

95% of statistics are shocking

..or whatever number you want to make up.

lies, damns lies and statistics

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Troll

Some people just know how to work the system

If you've ever read any government Regulatory Impact Assessments, you'll know that cooking the figures so they show that the government's policy is absolutely spot-on in the face of obvious common-sense evidence to the contrary is just the way it all works.

If someone happens to provide some already-cooked figures, so much the better. It saves the civil servants having to do the cooking. I guess that saves tax-payers' money doesn't it? And since freetards are taxpayers (maybe), they should be rejoicing at this saving.

Troll? Moi? No, it's just cynicism.

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KaD

Statistics

In ancient times they had no statistics so they had to fall back on lies.

- Stephen Leacock

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Bronze badge

Oh, I know that ratio

That's the difference between the amount of alcohol bought in scotland and the amount of alcohol scots admit to drinking. Of course, always multiply by that when you expect someone of something.

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Hmmm...

If they had any sense, the government would not want to piss off 7 million people.

I'm sure that's more than the number who voted for them last time, so it would be a very good idea to make friends with them, and not enemies!

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wot no torrents ?

I have used file sharing software

therefore i am a music pirate

therefore i must turn myself in at once.

i may be some time ....

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Anonymous Coward

MMOs

I play a popular MMO occasionally and when it does large patches the client uses P2P to make launch-day downloading significantly faster.

Does that make me an evil pirate stealing money from the very pockets of third-rate music artists? I am truly sorry for all the people my downright criminal activities have made jobless.

p.s. I've never downloaded any illegal software, music or other copyrighted stuff and I do not appreciate being lumped together with those who do by f***wit researchers and their media company paymasters.

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FAIL

Government statistics massaged in favour of powerful lobbyists?

In other news, the Pope is Catholic, and bears shit in the woods.

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Flame

@Used file-sharing sw

Hhahaha. Hahahahhahaha.

Legal use of file-sharing. Hhahahah. You mean things like 'linux distro's right,

Hhahaha. Hahahahhahaha.

Being a 'pirate' is 'cool'*. What pirate is going to admit to anyone that they using some legally, and for linux at that.

Hhahaha. Hahahahhahaha.

Oh and thanks El Reg. Now I know that the number of file sharers may only be between 3.9 and 5.6m rather than 7m has made me feel much better. Everyone knows as soon as you go over 6m people start to take notice......

Stats rule! (95% of the time, based on a sample size of 1 with an error % of -+ 14.69)

* That's surely the point - being cool? I mean what else are you going to do with the 4 million MP3s and 1.2 million movies you've now got on your home network. Listen/watch them all?

Hhahaha. Hahahahhahaha. Twats.

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Only 7 million...

Ok, so if they are going to cook the numbers they could at least try and it get it right. 20 million may be about right.

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All those voters

Bigging up the stats is an own goal, does any politician wish to toss away a huge number of votes?

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Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

It's a widely believed fact that 88% of all statistics are made up on the spot.

(Paraphrased from Vic Reeves.)

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Rule of Three

An old Wiccan school of thought, being that anything you do unto others will be returned upon you three times.

Most noteworthy is the bastardisation of the phrase, featured in American Pie. The new "Rule of Three" is that when you ask any man / woman how many sexual partners they've had, you must divide / multiply the answer given by three, respectively.

These figures are from a source which wishes the figure to be higher than the real amount, much like the man in the above example, therefore we must divide the number by three.

New story: 2.3m people in the UK are engaged in the sharing of digital copies of music. According to http://www.statistics.gov.uk/census2001/pyramids/pages/UK.asp that's either All male 15-24 year olds, or half of the male 10 - 29 year olds.

No, I don't believe those figures, either.

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Pirate

Cry me a river

Those are child's play in Chinese's eyes, China pirate everything,

from electronics, to fashion items, to cars, food or even weapons.

You name it, we sell copies of it and we sell it fast, we are the factory, we and our competition made real copies of iPhones within weeks and sold them at 1/4 the price around the world

APPLE couldn't do shit, and still can't.

Chinese systematically pirate and profit on a massive local and global scale, with no pressure from any governments, and under heavy competition amongst each other so our skills are top-notch.

Any of our top 10 torrent sites eclipses TPB/Mininova or whatever.

On top of that, the people and the government of China don't give a rat's ass about the laws in US. In fact Chinese consider it patriotic to pirate stuff from English speaking countries.

Sue us? Lol, even the US gov need China to buy their bonds so they don't drown in their trillions of debt.

China has its own system, even Google/Yahoo has to do things the China way when they get there.

I suppose because most of western world can't read Chinese so they never searched for sites in China.

Any simple research (baidu, yahoo cn) will show you China has much much much bigger sites than TPB, TPB is not even in the same league.

Feck Sweden, it's way overrated, their numbers are too small and their government is too weak.

Get your stuff from a place where a billion people regard privacy is the norm (communism), and a place where the people and the government doesn't give a shit about US's laws AT ALL.

Wake up and think global.

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FAIL

Pick a number...

Looking at the article the number could be anything you please. As stated above, it doesn't take into account people using file-sharing software legally. That would significantly reduce the figure. On the other hand, what about all the illegal file sharing not using specific file sharing software. Add all the email attachments, stuff put on USB drives, friends cutting CDs/DVDs for each other, etc. In that case the figure might be much higher. As a piece of research it's a little bit pathetic and possibly just a tad compromised.

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WTF?

How long did the research take ?

Or did they just read Ben Goldacre's article ?

http://www.badscience.net/2009/06/home-taping-didnt-kill-music/

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Lies, Damn Lies...

and very sloppy research.

So who gets sacked?

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Unhappy

Sadly, no surprise...

The music industry supplies evidence that supports its own position and the government goes along with it, no matter how obvious the lies...

Didn't the cigarette industry produce evidence that smoking was perfectly safe (while suppressing evidence to the contrary), which governments happily colluded with to protect their tobacco revenues?

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UK Pirate Party member ship 7 million & counting?

So according to the recording industry there are potentially 7 million votes for a UK Pirate Party? I'd say a minority like that would have some clout.

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you cant be serious

go and wash your mouth out with soap how can your figures worked out using statistics that are reliable be more accurate than transposed and rounded figures taken from a dubious small sample source,by a firm that has a vested interest in them being wrong.

Bang goes your lordship.......

keep up the good work exposing the myths that surround this evocative issue.

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Paris Hilton

Ok, so I was going to go and grab a torrent..

..to make these stats true, as promised- but couldn't find anything actually worth the trouble to download, even for free. Sigh.

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Welcome!

To the nu democracy of nu labour.

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Stop

Define: File Sharing Software?

I use Windows, Windows Mobile, Linux, Email - All capable of sharing files with others.

How does that make me Johnny Depp?

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Nicey nice nice..

nice little article..

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Megaphone

Ace debunker

More or less, ace debunker of received wisdom, well worth the podcast

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Oops

I've used filesharing software. All those illegally-downloaded Linux DVDs.

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Dodgy methodology

Assuming the sample is actually representative of UK broadband households, i.e. not skewed, a sample size over a thousand is absolutely fine. Most reputable opinion polls are there or thereabouts.

What I don't get is the calculation of 136 respondents divided by 1,176 households. Was there just one respondent per household? Was that person responding on behalf of all the householders? That calculation could be overstating reality by a factor of 3 or more.

Were respondents asked if they *illegally* shared files, or just if they used file sharing software. The two are not the same thing.

-A.

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Coffee/keyboard

Also, where does the money figure come from?

I wonder where the money figure in it comes from as well. How did they calculate how much the freetards would have actually SPENT if they hand't downloaded ... or wait, as that's probably 0 they couldn't use the real figure ... damn ... need to cook some more

Mine's the one with the wallet in the pocket.

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Flame

Self Serving Statistics

I'm in education.

Every lobby group quotes figures and claims that 20% of kids fall under their umbrella.

Even allowing for overlap there has to be a limit to how many fifths of the population are in a special catagory. And even then, it can't possibly add up to 100% ( 'cos my kids are fine and so are most of their friends).

The trouble is there are always plenty of supposedly sensible people (and journalists) who can't let facts get in the way of a good story.

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Megaphone

Anyone seen any weapons of mass destruction?

The Government told us they were there ready to blow us all to hell. If you can invade 2 countries with some made up statistics they why would they tell the truth about this.

Money makes the world go round.

Lies, damns lies and statistics

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Ke
Megaphone

Another point

There's a big difference between "had used file-sharing software" (quoted) and *using* file-sharing software. "used" as a figure will always grow - the actual usage would eventually normalise.

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WTF?

Economy

Dont you just love that due to someone downloading some music, who, they believe would have bought that music if they couldnt have downloaded it, is affecting the uk economy. What, because they didnt buy that song, that money that would have go towards that song has just dissappeared from the economy, its not been used to buy something else, and what are the chances that the money wouldnt have even stayed in the UK?

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Happy

65% of all statistics...

...are made up right there on the spot!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMQdtyot38s

Possibly NSFW (language).

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Pint

adjustments

"But did they take into account the number of people who used file-sharing software totally legally"

okay take 5 people off the total

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Stop

It all makes sense now

With 7,000,000 Monsters in the Closet (tm) it's no wonder the Music Industry executives need such big houses.

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Totally Bogus

The most questionable assumption seems to be teh association between the use of file sharing software and illegal downloading.

We might as well ask what proportion of the population have used a knife multiply by the population of the UK and then say that number are involved in knife crime.

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Happy

7 million? Way too low!!!

Actually I think 7 million is a gross understatement!

My missus regularly hears the mums outside the local school gate discussing what kids's films and MP3 they have ripped off from PirateBay and Mininova over the last few days, even so far as trading unmarked burned DVD's sometimes.

If a bunch of mums in a typical school in a normal part of Britain are on the freetard train, I dread to think what everyone else is up to!

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Paris Hilton

Hmm, I have used bittorrent..

..so I guess I need to go pirate something now, so as not to make the music industry look stupid. Off to isohunt I go...

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Pirate

@ Steve Evans

7 million is certainly more people than will be voting for them next time around. Not that there are any shining alternatives to choose from - it's beginning to look like the Pirate Party is the most sensible, moderate choice.

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FAIL

And please

a downloaded song or movie does not equal one less sale. And to even try and guess how many jobs that are "lost" is ridiculous.

Vote Pirate and try to get some sensible people in politics, they can not do worse than the clowns that are around now.

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Linux

File sharing software

Isn't that called Microsoft Windows? I seem to remember 2 little checkboxes saying "share files" and "share printers". Of course it is a long time since I have used windoze myself but I am a little surprised (and pleased if it is true) that there are only 7million windoze users left in UK.

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WTF?

File-sharing?

You don't need to share files to pirate them. There are many services out there where you can simply download a file - no need for and uploading (sharing). This also arguably makes it less illegal.

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Anonymous Coward

iplayer

FYI can listen to iPlayer outside of UK, audio is apparently fair game.... video is not allowed :(

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Sometimes TV is worth watching.

I wonder if it also assumes that people who file share are doing illegal stuff?

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Grenade

That's Not The Worst Of It!

The worst part is not these cooked numbers, it's that they use the quantum leap in assuming that each person downloads "X" amount and every time it is a profit loss.

I'm all for new study, one that asks three simple questions:

1) Do you pirate anything the music industry holds copyright over?

Only those that answer yes become the new survey panel.

Of this panel the following question is asked:

2) Are you aware the music industry sells music?

Any that answer yes, we can conclude have chosen not to pay for the music and so there is $0.00 loss to the music industry.

3) If you were unaware that the music industry sells music, do you have the disposable income to be able to afford your share, as a fraction of the total losses the music industry claims, so that once you become aware of music for sale, you could buy enough to support their claimed losses?

Any that answer no, we can conclude are also removed from the potential pool of pirates causing losses.

What would you guess the remaining % of all citizens is, that is unaware they could buy music AND has the billions of pounds of money to spend on it? Rounding _UP_, I'd guess 1%.

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FAIL

never "assume" anything...

As it makes an 'ASS' out of U and ME, as the old saying goes.

Of course, the Music Industry is, in all probability, the biggest ass, or collection of asses, on the planet.

And all of this based on the 'admissions' of 136 people.

136 = 7 000 000? That's taking abstract maths to a whole new level.

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FAIL

Sunday's statistics ... ehrm ... lies

Statistics is a wonderful playground for people with little or no education; including most politicians and managers. To please this crowd, the following lies might be used in the next report, just cut and paste, nobody will know ;-)

AFAIK Mandelson recently came out saying that 50% of the UK IP traffic was 'illegal' if we take this number and combine it with the (rounded-up) lie of 7 million 'pirates', we only need to know how much IP-traffic and how many household connections there are in the UK, to play a nice game of statistics on a Sunday morning.

Some time ago Cisco published a forecast paper on worldwide IP traffic, which can be found on:

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/solutions/collateral/ns341/ns525/ns537/ns705/ns827/white_paper_c11-481360.pdf

Unfortunately they do not separate their numbers by country, but the forecast for Western Europe (WE) for 2009 is 3,623 Petabytes (PB) per month, and to help us even more, they have also included data on consumer vs business traffic (table 1 on page 4).

The number for WE does not help us much in the statistics game for the UK, but if we assume that Cisco uses the Unesco definition of WE, we can move ahead with the help of the always factual and truthful Wikipedia and the table near the bottom of:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Europe

To do a quick recap: we have the total IP traffic for WE, and the countries that make up WE. So now we need to know how many connections there are in these specific countries to play on. Thank the interwebs, for statistic overviews like this brilliant overview of each European country and the amount and percentage of internet users:

http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats4.htm#europe

Now we have al the information we need to continue. I will not bother you with calculations, but anybody with half a brain can combine the above in a spreadsheet (although the outcome might be different depending on previous schooling and experience).

First we start with the Cisco forecast and assume that the ratio between consumer and business traffic worldwide is the same for WE. This will give us a (rounded down) total of 2,562 PB.

Using the Unesco definition of WE and the table from internetworldstats.com, we find that the UK users are responsible for 475.75 PB per month. This is of course assuming that the traffic is equally dispersed over these countries (which of course it is not).

Using the same consumer/business ratio, the total UK IP traffic is 672.75 PB per month.

Now for the end-game, combining these numbers with the 'facts' of Mandelson (50% illegal traffic) and the Government-slash-Industry (7 million pirates).

First, the 50% illegal traffic.

A staggering 336.38 PB per month is illegal traffic. For the sake of in-game fun, let's assume that the average effective bandwidth for UK households is 4 Megabits per second (I know that's not true ... thanks to the Register's articles and comments, but hey ...). Let's also assume that people using the interwebs for illegal downloads do so 24/7, this gives us a monthly download capacity of 10,368,000 Megabits, or 1.3 Terabytes.

This would mean that there are only about 265,778 pirates in the UK, a minority group, but one with excellent connections which they only use for illegal downloading (this calculation does not give space for legal browsing, email, uploading, updating software, and a lot of other things commonly done on a connected PC).

Second, the 7 million pirates.

This number represents about 14% of the users, assuming that traffic is equally dispersed, this means that they are responsible for 96.59 PB per month, which of course should be classified as illegal; otherwise it would not be fair to disconnect them after three accusations of 'pirating'.

You are a pirate or you are not, so assuming 24/7 pirating, we get an abysmal speed of 0.04 Mbits per second. Pirates of the UK: I feel for you, life as a pirate is hard, but man ... this is a depressing life you lead.

Third, a bit of reality.

I will take an average 'illegal' downloading household (no I do not know them, and it is not us. Really, trust me on this). Let's assume that they have an 8 Mbit connection and only download what they can actually watch / listen to (yes max download is more than you can fill your day with, unless you really do not have a life). They also use their connection to do other interesting and very legal stuff. They average out on about 100 Gigabytes (GB) per month, of which we will assume 60 GB is illegal (according to Geffen, oops, Mandelson).

Combining this with the 'fact' 50% is illegal, we would have about 5,740,817 illegal downloaders in the UK, which comes closer to the rounded up 7 million, yet it still does not add up.

If there would be 7 million 'pirates' in the UK, averaging out 60 GB of illegal downloads a month, they would represent 420 PB a month, meaning much more than 50% of traffic, leaving almost not enough room for YouTube or BBC's iPlayer.

Of course all of the above is utter nonsense, as all statistics is once it is out of the hands of people who actually know what the numbers represent, and into the hands of people who only see the numbers and interpret them as they please, or as their selective perspective / myopic interests makes them see nothing else.

Truth be told, I have no clue on specific numbers on legal, or illegal downloads; regardless of the definition of 'illegal'. I do know however that the 'facts' do not speak for themselves, and are nothing less than lies for the spin-doctors to use, may the be corporate or governmental. My guess is that most internet users will have downloaded material that they have not paid for, some a lot more and frequent than others, and some probably without knowing it.

And dear Lord Mandelson, I will bet you are part of that group; maybe once, but more likely more than three times ........

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Multiple DSL lines = multple people

Like many small businesses we telework and the company pays for multiple DSL lines for staff.

I understand these stats count DSL lines even if for business use.

So our grand total of 10+ DSL lines used by 4+ memebrs of staff count as 10 or 20 people - figures assume there are an average of 2.2 people per line!

Lies, damn lies and "research".

Like most research consultancies you pay enough you get the figures you want...

Jacqui.

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Pirate

"billions of pounds worth of economic losses and thousands of jobs lost annually"

Well, the converse of the statement is that there are billions of pounds worth spent on consumer goods other than plastic discs, or god forbid, actually saved, possibly creating thousands of jobs for Blight annually-

PIRACY MAY ACTUALLY BE GOOD FOR THE ECONOMY!

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