back to article US gov cries foul on MPAA piracy claims

That massive amount of money that business groups such as the Business Software Alliance (BSA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) claim is being lost due to piracy and copyright infringement? Well, fuggedaboutit. Such is the conclusion of a 37-page report (pdf) by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO …


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@@An interesting idea

"And Disney should be free to take a Hans Christian Anderson story for free, turn it into a cartoon and own the copyright for ever?"

Yeah, this is something that really sticks in my craw: "we got rich off other people's copyright-expired IP, but we don't want anyone else doing the same". I dunno what I think is worse, Disney's "copyright expiry's for me but not for thee" attitude or the fact that so many people have grown up thinking that Disney's crassly saccharine retelling of old tales are the genuine article.

As an aside, who's been downvoting every response that calls for a modicum of balance? Own up!


who's been downvoting every response that calls for a modicum of balance?

A bunch of dweebs who think that IP stands for IN my POSSESSION.

Go ahead and down vote this post. Most of the arguments for piracy are whiny and childish.

[Please note that there are some good arguments for cutting lengths of IP (Patent, Copyright, etc) based on somewhat reasonable economic issues. Those are worth listening to.]

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Perhaps you should tell Mr. Orlowski he talks shit!

My comment is above.....


Treat people like criminals...

...and they'll behave like criminals.

The industry alarmists' attitudes annoy and insult the many who ride the fence between the temptation to pirate and the willingness to pay the bucks out of a sense of integrity. It's pretty hard to quantify the extent of piracy triggered by such irritation, but I'll bet it amounts to a pretty fair chunk of change.

What really chaps my hide, though, is the industries' attempts to effectively grab regulatory power over the design and functionality of consumer electronics, demanding limitations aimed ostensibly at frustrating the transfer of material by users to their own systems and media, but with no regard for legitimate kinds of copying and the cost imposed on consumers whose equipment would no longer work because of them. The idea of an industry with no accountability to the public acquiring de facto regulatory control of another industry's designs and innovations is pretty scary, the more so when they're choking off useful features because they might--MIGHT--be used for piracy--sometimes.

I have a goodly number of purchased items which were purchased because I first grabbed a pirated copy for a preview. I can't be the only one. The numbers might not be all that impressive, but has anyone considered that--that some purchases came about because of interest triggered by a pirated copy of something they might otherwise not have considered interesting enough to buy? Yes, there's a temptation to just keep the illegitimate copy and pass on the purchase, but when there's the willingness to buy what can be pirated, there's at least some willingness to buy what has been pirated.

I also see a bit of irony in one case of my own, an Italian movie I "stole" via Bit Torrent. I had first combed the net in search of a copy, and found only one for sale--from Italy. Region 2. Useless.


Never heard of multi-region DVD players?

Why not just buy a multi-region DVD player?

On the Continent, where region-locking is considered illegal, they are all multi-region. You'll need a TV that can sync at 50Hz, and possibly a replacement PSU; though modern switched-mode jobbies seem to be able to work OK from 110V. Go in via RGB SCART and bypass the whole PAL / SECAM / NTSC minefield.


Every side shouts from their own standpoint of motivated self interest

I buy CD's/DVD's/Games etc, where I believe they represent good value for my hard earned money and where I have an understanding of the content and of it meeting my tastes.

I use many factors in determining what meets my taste, and one of these is the opinion of friends. Some of those slate some products and I will as a result avoid them, others recommend and I may therefore spend.

In my opinion, most of the above products when first released are rarely worth the price they are marketed at: £12.99 for a CD; £17.99 for a DVD; £45 for a game. So I often wait just 3 months and see prices plummet. If you wait 12 months, the prices plummet further.

The record industry often said since the 1970's things such as: home taping is killing the industry/CD's are expensive to produce/We change a fair price that the market is prepared to pay. All of these are untrue. Home taping has gone and the record industry is still here; CD's earned the industry both more as a % of sale price and more in terms of £ per copy that either records or tapes ever did; the advent of torrents has simply served to more openly demonstrate that the market is not prepared to pay the prices being charged. Only a small percentage of the market is content with the existing price structures.

What we appear to have is a series of industries which managed a long time ago to create a cash cow: Little effort and a lot of profit. I suspect that the majority of creative people by their nature are not structured thinkers in terms of contract negotiations and long term market views. The industries that are supposed to however are. The result is that with an exception of a few creatives, the majority are screwed over and receive a far smaller percentage of sale revenue that in my opinion they should.

I think that like many people, I would love to be able to pay the artist directly in order to receive the product of their creativity. Slowly (far too slowly) this is starting to be possible, however the Music/Film industries are railing against this and unfortunately have the money/power to influence people to support their continued existence.

At present an average artist (music) I believe gets around 11% of the sale value of a CD/song/mp3 or whatever. If they could receive let's may 50% for example, with the seller and a middle man making up the rest, then to get the same earning as they do now, they could in theory reduce the selling price from99p per track to 20p. I'm guessing that if the cost of music changed that dramatically, they'd sell one hell of a lot more and a great number of those currently obtaining music for free would be encouraged to pay for at least some music.

I don't think we can address this overnight, but we must beat down the entrenched and out of date positions of scared industry middle-men in order to both support creatives and ensure the market if offered products which genuinely represent value for money.



So, that 250 billion that's lost, given that there aren't 250 billion sitting in peoples savings accounts (there isn't you know, it's kind of off the other end of the scale), where exactly is it supposed to have come from anyway?

Beer, because, well, I know where my share went :-)


An anecdote

Some people have far too much time in their hands, judging by the frequency of their "contributions"... but anyway :)

Years ago I used to refrain from copying music and other works of art, thinking that I was somehow helping the artists by so doing. That only lasted until a good friend of mine, who is a professional career musician published an (at the time was his latest) album with one of his bands and guess what... he very sternly *forbid* me from buying it under any circumstances whatsoever, offering to provide me with as many so-called pirated copies as I wanted instead.

After he explained how much they get from each CD sale I understood exactly why he wasn't keen on people buying them CDs. On the other hand, the wider distribution of his music, notably by way of unpaid copies and downloads, helped them in a significant way to get more concerts, which apparently is how they (and everyone apart from the Beatles and very few others) actually make a living.

So now you know, if you want to support an act the first thing you do is you rip all their records and share them wide and far. The second thing you do is you attend their concerts (or at least pay for someone else's ticket, which btw personally I've done with complete strangers).

I hope this helps.

On a marginal note, as for someone's whinge about people posting as ACs---I can't speak for everyone, but personally I do it because I want my comments to be valued on the face of what is actually said, not from some random handle going with it.

Coat. The one with the Clam Chowder songs in a USB stick.


Most notable feature of this story is..

The amazement and rejoicing of commenters here when a government body publishes something which is reasonably truthful.

What a sorry state we are in.

Gold badge

Retrospective correction of court fines?

AFAIK those dreamt up figures have also been extensively used to determine the court imposed fines on end users accused of piracy. Given that the above reports shreds the figures that were bandied around it stands to reason that convictions were thus also based on false data, and that fines were thus incorrectly calculated.

Wouldn't it be fun if it was somehow possible to get those fines recalculated, forcing the RIAA to return the difference plus interest?

Yum ..


Yay, Congress!

Like OMG, the US Congress can actually do something useful -- outside of all the C-SPAN entertainment of their "daily" banter? No ways! Go GAO! I'm all for true objectivity in government, after all.



Well known for respecting other people's copyrights and trademarks.


If it wasn't free I would not pay for it.

Seems to be the point missed a lot by the Industry.

I buy stuff and download stuff, but if wasn't free I would not have paid for it.

So these Billions are not real and never will be.


This has always been hyped up by those who want to tighten their grip

This has always been hyped up by those who want to tighten their grip.

As an example, I don't buy music any more, I used to have tons of records and CD's, I flogged them years ago and use youTube. IF I download an illegal copy of something, there is no loss of sale because I would never have purchased anyway. I don't P2P, I use youTube.

If I downloaded an episode of something that is showing in the US not in the UK, there is no loss as it would eventually be on UK TV and I would not pay other than by my annual lisence anyway, so my action harms no one.

If I download a film it would be a film that I would NEVER go to the cinema to watch, I would happily wait for it to be aired on TV for free. No loss of revenue again.

I actually go to the cinema and watch EVERY film I want to see. The rest is just TV fodder so there would never be any sale made.

The same is true for games and software I guess. But I think these suffer more than music or film industries.

I play games. I buy the ones that I want to play, recent purchases: CODMW2 & BFBC2. I have played illegal copies in the past and I'm glad I did because some of them were installed, played for 10 minutes, found to be total load of crap and uninstalled. I have purchased plenty of games that were so shit that I lost interest in games full stop. Online FPS and MMORPG's have the right idea and fan base, and they either do good or fail miserably due to lack of dev support.

How piracy can be beneficial:

I would rather use a pirate version of single-player-only game like offline BattleField Bad Company2 to see if I like the dynamics of the game then pay for the game ( I did, £34) because the real content and appeal of this game is online play. My actions harmed no one and the net result is they got a sale and a loyal player/follower of their product. I now trust their dev skills and ability to provide value entertainment.

There is too much shove it in your face, take it or leave it in the games(and other) industry, I think this will change,, online gaming is alreayd changing the status quo.

What all this concludes is that the market place has changed, the old models do not work any more and that companies should restructure the way the sell to get as many loyal buyers as they can. If your products are good, people will buy. If your marketing and sales platform encourage buyer participation you are more likely to achive sales.

There will always be piracy, there always has been, but to scream that every pirated item equals a lost sale is absurd, no, it is a blatant lie, a huge distortion of the truth, manipulated to tighten the corporate hold on an open marketplace.

Individual piracy that does not generate income (e.g the home use on p2p) is relatively harmless and can even be beneficial in some cases. Organised piracy where criminal enteties make profit should be pursued and prosicuted.



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