Ars Technica has a great article about the US government’s Government Accountability Office’s review of the data from industry groups’ that claim that piracy is causing billions in lost sales – the data simply isn’t there, say the GAO.
Here’s an excerpt:
The GAO then sets its sights on several private industry reports. The Business Software Alliance claimed a loss of $9 billion to piracy in 2008, but its study “uses assumptions that have raised concerns among experts we interviewed, including the assumption of a one-to-one rate of substitution and questions on how the results from the surveyed countries are extrapolated to non-surveyed countries.”
Next up was the MPAA, which has already publicly taken its lumps for that flawed 2005 survey we mentioned above. But even when you set aside the mistaken initial conclusion about collegiate downloading, the study still shouldn’t be used by lawmakers; it’s a black box.
“It is difficult, based on the information provided in the study, to determine how the authors handled key assumptions such as substitution rates and extrapolation from the survey sample to the broader population,” says the GAO.