There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. (Mark Twain)
Many people have questioned the validity of IP piracy statistics over the years. There is, in fact, a rather commonly-held belief that such figures are inflated by rights holders in order to justify crackdowns.
A story on Ars Technica seems to confirm that idea.
Writer Julian Sanchez puts on his detective hat in an attempt to track down two key statistics which are continually cited in relation to IP piracy:
- 750,000 U.S. jobs lost
- $250 billion lost from the U.S. economy
His conclusion? At best, the numbers are unsupportable. At worst, they are simply nonsense.
These statistics are brandished like a talisman each time Congress is asked to step up enforcement to protect the ever-beleaguered U.S. content industry. And both, as far as an extended investigation by Ars Technica has been able to determine, are utterly bogus...
Perhaps more importantly, both numbers are seemingly decades old, gaining a patina of currency and credibility by virtue of having been laundered through a relay race of respectable sources, even as their origin recedes into the mists. That's especially significant, because these numbers are always invoked as proof that the piracy problem is still dire—that everything we've done to step up international enforcement of intellectual property laws has been in vain. But of course, if you simply recycle the same numbers from 15 and 20 years ago... then it will necessarily seem as though no ground has been gained.
How Sanchez reached this conclusion makes for a compelling read. Hit the link for the full article.