Re: Copyright Infringement
It's very difficult to assess the impact of piracy.
The obvious approach is to just count the number of infringing downloads, multiply by retail price, and get your damage figure. Easy. And useless, because most of those downloads are not lost sales. Pirates may happily build up a library of tens of thousands of songs, but they aren't going to buy those all on CD. Nor would they buy all those films on blu-ray - they'd be a few, but most would be left until they can be watched on TV or gotten for £4.99 in the bargin bin.
So you can try to estimate lost sales. Which is difficult, because pirates aren't very honest in answering surveys. But it can be attempted. Estimates only vary by a couple of orders of magnitude.
That's a little better. But then you've got network effects to take into account. Even if you conclude that piracy is resulting in huge numbers of lost sales, that might not capture the full damage - because if you're putting distributers out of business, or causing studios to spend less, that means lots of people who are now unemployed and thus have greatly reduced spending. This can amplify the impact of piracy. That is, if you can seperate it from other changes in the market: Piracy may be hurting the record store, but iTunes is arguably hurting it a lot more.
Then there's the issue of network effects working the other way. What happens to all that money not being spent on movie tickets and CDs? It returns to discressionary income. That means people spending more on other forms of luxury. Tech-toys, holidays, furnishings and general tat. Piracy has benefits and harms that are not obviously connected. It certainly drives a lot of hard-drive sales.
Given that the movie industry breaks their previous box-office takings record every year, and music industry revenue continues to climb, it's hard to see piracy as having much of an impact at all.