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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  1. Anonymous Coward

    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.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    95% of statistics are shocking

    ..or whatever number you want to make up.

    lies, damns lies and statistics

  3. Anonymous Coward

    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.

  4. KaD


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

    - Stephen Leacock

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    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.

  6. Steve Evans


    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!

  7. Lost in a maze of twisty messages, all alike.
    Thumb Down

    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 ....

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    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.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Government statistics massaged in favour of powerful lobbyists?

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

  10. Antidisestablishmentarianist

    @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.

  11. Loki 1

    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.

  12. Dave 12

    All those voters

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

  13. Crivens

    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.)

  14. The Original Ash
    Thumb Down

    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 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.

  15. ChineseGod

    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.

  16. sandman

    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.

  17. Adrian 4

    How long did the research take ?

    Or did they just read Ben Goldacre's article ?

  18. david 63

    Lies, Damn Lies...

    and very sloppy research.

    So who gets sacked?

  19. Anonymous Coward

    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?

  20. Simon Noble
    Thumb Up

    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.

  21. Frederick Karno
    Thumb Up

    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.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Ok, so I was going to go and grab a torrent.. make these stats true, as promised- but couldn't find anything actually worth the trouble to download, even for free. Sigh.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    To the nu democracy of nu labour.

  24. ElNumbre

    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?

  25. Hate2Register
    Thumb Up

    Nicey nice nice..

    nice little article..

  26. Grumpytom

    Ace debunker

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

  27. Number6


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

  28. captain veg Silver badge

    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.


  29. Anonymous Coward

    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.

  30. Terry 6 Silver badge

    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.

  31. dunncha

    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

  32. Ke

    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.

  33. Anonymous Coward


    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?

  34. Shooter

    65% of all statistics...

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

    Possibly NSFW (language).

  35. Paul E


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

    okay take 5 people off the total

  36. Gannon (J.) Dick

    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.

  37. Alan Johnson

    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.

  38. Anonymous Coward

    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!

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

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

  40. Jerome 0

    @ 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.

  41. Anonymous Coward

    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.

  42. JassMan

    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.

  43. Kotonoha


    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.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


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

  45. Reg Sim
    Thumb Up

    Sometimes TV is worth watching.

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

  46. JC 2

    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%.

  47. dervheid

    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.

  48. disfit

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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, 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 ........

  49. Jacqui

    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...


  50. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    "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-


  51. David 45


    I really must speak to Mr. Mandelson about this.

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    trouble with undeclared modifications

    what's the betting that later on, someone else will round up the numbers once more because they think that a compensation for admission vs actual use hasn't been made.

    And repeat...

  53. davcefai

    Law is a Consensus of Society

    If a law criminalises so many people then is it not time to change the law?

  54. SuperTim


    I own an album. it is in my car but i want to be able to listen to it on my ipod. It is raining so i wont be going out to my car to get it. I download the album instead. I own the licence to listen to the music as i have a legal copy. it is still illegal though thanks to our archaic laws.

    I own many albums. They are in cd format and now quite scratched and unplayable. I download them so i can listen to the albums. This is also illegal.

    Can someone tell me if i am one of these so called pirates who have put people out of a job? or is the fact that i have bought many albums that i also download relevent? seems that they dont care.

    Screw em i say.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    NuLabour vs Brits

    In other words, they make fake reports in order to prosecute/punish British people on false evidence. The same pattern we've seen again and again and again.

    NuLabour + BPI vs British People

    NuLabour + Anti Porn crusaders vs British People

    NuLabour + Pot Fantasists vs British People

    NuLabour + Ashcroft vs British People

    Again and again, they take the side of special interests, produce a fake report, then try to put Brits in jail, deport them abroad without evidence, apply some extreme moral limits to Brits.

    The stats says P2P is declining, it's been around 8 years, Mandleson has a meeting on a yacht with an influential lobby, and suddenly he FEELS AN URGENT NEED to tackle this problem. So urgent that legislation can't be put before Parliament. Now we find the report he puts out to support his argument is another POS.

    Unelected, and unelectable.

  56. Alex Brett

    Core assumption flawed

    These studies always have one core assumption, that every song/film/whatever downloaded illegaly would be purchased if it wasn't available to download / the person didn't want to breach copyright. In most cases, this isn't the case - a lot of people wouldn't buy the song, and in fact in some cases people actually get a 'dodgy' version to see what it's like, then if they like it go out and buy the real thing!

  57. Anonymous Coward

    On top of all that....

    ...even if you had accurate figures of illegal music downloads, you can still cannot not equate that to lost revenue. Because, from my own experience, so lets make that a figure of 90%, 90% of downloaded music would never have been bought should the ability to freely download it not be present.

    So even if the figures were accurate in terms of illegal downloading, they would still be bullshit in the context of how much the music industry is losing out from illegal downloading.

    Hell, sometimes the illegal donwloading creates sales from people discovering music they like that they would otherwise not have bothered with if they had to pay for. Obviously, that only applies to those that like to support the artists of music they enjoy, not steal from them - and strangly such people do exist!

  58. Anonymous Coward

    I'll admit

    to having downloaded music files that I could guess were not legit.

    I have no money

    So it's not a lost sale

    I was never going to buy it.

    Some music files that I downloaded are not available commercially, so in those cases who is losing what? The music biz is losing control of what I can listen to.

    It is not just about money

    Before the internet we used to swap tapes. The music industry survived.

  59. Allan Rutland
    Thumb Down

    Will become more interesting though...

    since as soon as Win7 gets out with its inbuilt file sharing tech (part of the new network stack which now has the ability to do P2P milarky around local machines for patchs and internet cache and the like...but then again such things are never mentioned on the Reg when discussing Win7 things) it'll really screw over the figures hehe.

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @number of votes

    Last time they got 9.5 million votes. So yeah, 7 million is a big number, especially since the tories got 8.7

    Now if those 7 would vote for a minor party we might have a non-labour leader of the opposition.

  61. Anonymous Coward

    BPI tall tales

    There'ss a study of how many opposite sex partners people have had, 3,5 for women and 4,5 for men, when the numbers should be same. The women lie a lower number, men a higher number. Or there could be a influx of horny alien women.

    Same goes for this "adjustment". I don't think they have taken into account that some might lie doing illegal file sharing when they don't ,for thhinking it's cool, or by mistake when what they've done is perfectly legal, or for trying to influence the result.

    Making a number up is as good as undocumented and semibased adjustments, especially when the adjustment moves the number to the way of ordeerer. The reader loses fate to study if the cat gets out of the bag and makes his own number and explanation.

    As for me, I'm partial to the horny alien women, its more believable than any whopper for file shares or losses the recording indusry fabricates.

  62. Graham Marsden
    Dead Vulture

    "dubious research commissioned by the music industry itself."

    Come on, El Reg, we need a "Bear pooping in the woods" icon...!

  63. Anonymous Coward

    Begin Thoughtcrime

    Has Oceania always been at war with Eastasia? or was it Eurasia? Is it 7 million pirates or just a few kids...

  64. Paul Landon


    "136 people said they had used file-sharing software"

    That does not make them pirates.

    I legally share files and I believe that most other file sharers do too.

  65. Anonymous Coward

    Economy Fix

    I think I see a way to drag the UK out of the recession...

    If *everyone* in the UK took a week and downloaded additonal huge amounts of software and videos and music then the associated industries could report to Gordon Brown that suddenly the UK is losing trillions of pounds. And then, the next week, we all stop and go back to our normal download rate. We would instantly be putting back into the economy (just by virtue of not downloading it, by their own logic) trillions of pounds! Simple!

  66. Somerset John

    More lying liars

    For the benefit of the (rest of) the human race, could all posters preface the names of any member of parliament, any representative of any recording medium or any pundit using statistics with the technical term "The liar" on the grounds that if they are any of the above, or are using statistics, they will in fact be lying.

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    For a population of 61 million, a mere 7 million disregarding a part of the law apparently designed to allow certain privileged folk to get paid by the rest for the same piece of work again and again and again is hardly "shock, horror" anyway. When a part of the law is held in contempt by decent people then it's probably bad law and in need of revisiting; not a justification for calls for harsher imposition. Besides not everyone who uses file sharing software is doing so illegally.

  68. CorruptioN

    Lets write our own paper!

    Then lets not publish the paper and put a shock figure out there. My research shows that 29 million politicians in the UK have scammed atleast £500 000 each from the tax payers in the form of expense claims. My study of 1 politician shows that he falsely claimed nearly £500 000. Adjusting for the fact that the probably didn't disclose the full amount, we can safely round this up to £500 000 (we could probably go higher, but I'm being nice here). We can also assume that he didn't really want to tell anyone, so lets say that 9856% of politicians are undertaking the same practice.

    OMG... we have to encrypt our money and and disconnect offenders from their... umm... do politicians even like anything?

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who cares?

    Wo cares if there is 7 million pirates or 50 million as long as each one eventually gets heavily fined and sent to jail, it's all good.

  70. batfastad
    Jobs Horns

    1/10th of the UK population? Is that all?

    I do piracy all the time and it's great... I've not bought new CDs/DVDs for years!... because I buy them all on amazon marketplace or ebay for half the price. I hear that's technically piracy.

    Oh yeah and that bunch of records I bought at a record fair a few months ago. Shiver me timbers.

    That's where the music/film cartels are losing their sales figures... not from 7m people downloading Leona Lewis (or whoever's the latest one off the conveyor) but people making a price decision and buying 2nd hand.

    Also maybe sales of music is just down because most of it generated these days is crap?

    Or maybe I'm just an old git at 25.

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Every other 'fact'

    Presumably they all go into the same oven. There are some figures that get pumped out that just KNOW can't possibly right, usually dispensed with with a bit of common sense, a pen and a beer mat I particularly recall the initial 'public thinks ID cards are great' survey a few years back. They 'consulted' a few hundred people with pre loaded questions and 'concluded' that ID had 85pc public support. The initial resistance to ID cards might just have been less if they'd pulled out a more feasible figure.

    Arseholes all.

  72. Si 1

    Own goal

    The general reaction I've seen to the 7 million figure is if that many people are doing it then it's foolish and impossible to criminalise such a large proportion of the population. Seems like an own goal by the music industry to me. Still it's made Labour even less popular (if that's possible) so it's not all bad.

  73. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @steve evans

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

    why not, they've already pissed off the other 60 million ( and rising )

  74. ForthIsNotDead


    If we accept for a moment, on faith, that the 16% figure is accurate, how is that any different to the 70's and 80's when every kid over the age of 13 was taping their mates albums?

    I remember when I was a lad, 3 of us would go into town. Each of would buy an album (I was particulary drawn to the albums of 10,000 Maniacs at the time) and then go back to my mates house (as his was closest to town and he had a Linn record deck) and tape each others albums, and anything else that took our fancy.

    I also have fond memories of listening to Tommy Vance and taping the Top 40. Then I would use my Dad's Amstrad Tape-To-Tape and make a selection of my faves, and lovingly record a copy for my girlfriend!

    I guess my point is, we've moved from analog copying to digital copying? Instead of the playground or the pub, we use the internet. It's just the same, but different.

    I would venture that Piracy could have been more prevalent then than it is now, simply because people had less dispoable income.

    Crikey, if you could have seen my TDK C90's full of albums, all neatly indexed, not to mention a shoe box full of C90's full of Speccy games!

    Ah, analog, where are you now?

    Mine's the one with a TDK SA90 with "Suzanne Vega - Solitude Standing" in the pocket.

    Anyone want a copy?

    Peace to all.

  75. Anonymous Coward


    Jim Lad!

  76. Adam Buckland

    But if those seven million people

    All voted for the pirate party.... they could hold the balance in a new government....

  77. Dave Bell

    Keeping Secrets

    If it was being done properly, the abstract would contain all the lies the politicians can understand, and a long, rather boring, paper would contain the details, with ample citations, of the process which produced the figures.

    It's not unusual to make an allowance for under-reporting: Mycho points out one possible source for that correction. There are known biases in how a survey is carried out, and it can be expensive getting honest answers (you have to be able to assure people that they can't be tracked down by record company lawyers).

    But it's the trouble you have to take to get even incomplete information on this which set's off the alarm bells.

    And, as with all statistical analysis, you have to know what question was being asked. "Have you downloaded music from the internet without payment" doesn't allow for what is lawfully available without payment (thank you, BBC), but the important question is the one the entity paying for the research is asking.

  78. Anonymous Coward

    And what counts as illegal

    I've got a lot of stuff on vinyl. I could dig out my record deck and hook it up to the system and digitise it all, or I could go and grab a copy from a torrent.

    So is that illegal or not?

  79. Gavin Jamie

    Readers Worldwide

    ...can download the MP3 (until 11.9.09) at

  80. aNthraXx
    Big Brother


    If only Chinese routing wasn't so bad to Europe.

    But yes, I agree with your point. Much like how there were plenty of Chinese hackers in the US defence systems (just as Gary McKinnon was), yet the US govt. would much rather have us bend over backwards to their demands than upset the Chinese. They can do what they like.

  81. Andrew 63

    RE: Only 7 million/

    What about 90% of the UK population? Thats more realistic.

    I know well over 300 people and they all do it.

  82. Richard Porter

    Lies, Wapping lies and Ministerial rep-lies

    Just how many thousands of jobs would be created if everyone paid for p2p downloads? Given that payments are automated I suspect not many.

  83. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lies, etc.

    You can't expect honesty from Their figure for unemployment is less than half of what it would be if you measured it the old way, i.e. the Tory way.

    Statistics to our current administration are just something they use to justify an argument, not in any way a reflection on the real world. However they will always commission an "independent" report (preferably at one remove) so that they can claim they were acting "in good faith on information received". Whatever happened to "measure twice, cut once"?

  84. Anonymous Coward

    Even more statistics...

    It appears that the BPI aren't the only ones who are good at making up numbers

    So 55 million downloads of Heroes, now divide that the number of episodes in a season (24), and you end up with about 2.2 million people downloading the entire series. But 55 million is a much bigger and scarier number so use that instead. Why let the facts get in way of a good argument?

  85. ShaggyDoggy

    Money again


    You'd think they'd learn ........

  86. Anonymous Coward

    Pirates buy more music. FACT.

  87. Maurice Shakeshaft

    If the statistics are so dubious - and they are!

    Why do other (ostensibly) responsible media, journalists and editors prepare and report them without any form of health warning?

    It is up to the reader, to a large extent, to apply critical thinking but with the presentational techniques and sophistry available today it is probable (in my opinion) only the most well informed (and a minority of the rest) will spot the statistical slights of hand. That is unhelpful and a contributor to mass cynicism about mathematics and statistics in general.

    So, why do they do it? Lazy, ignorant, malign, stupid, unable, deadlines, commercial interests?

    In any event TVM to you guys for trying to level the field a bit.

  88. Anonymous Coward

    You wouldn't steal a car.. (nope but I'd download one)

    Just look at the start of any legitimate dvd purchased, starting up you have to sit through the copyright theft is illegal crap.

    Haven't seen that one before have I?

    No fast forward or skip as I (and every other purchaser) is obviously a criminal and forcing me to watch this accusation every time I load a disc is really going to stop me/them from theft of copyright (copyright theft? If I steal the copyright does that mean I'm claiming the royalties?)

    Best way to avoid sitting through the accusation of being a criminal is be the criminal. Ripped dvds dont force you to sit through it!

  89. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    To quote the wonderful Radio4 series "The Department"....statistics are like a ventriloquist's dummy, you can make them say anything you like if you stick your hand up far enough.....but only children will listen to you.

  90. Anonymous Coward

    adjustment wasn't pulled out of thin air

    Unfortunately, we KNOW from whence it was pulled.

  91. Stuart Duel

    Guilty... or not

    I download music (and occasionally video) from time to time for the following reasons:

    1) try before I buy;

    2) acquire an item which hasn't been released in the local market (or not released at all anywhere with unofficial/bootleg remixes);

    3) couldn't be arsed trying to find the song amongst my hundreds of optical and vinyl discs;


    4) my legit physical copy of the song/album/remix is scratched to buggery.

    Generally if (1) and I like it, I'll then attempt to find and buy it. If (2), then the record labels can do something to stop me - release the damn album/song/remix locally so I can acquire it legally. If (3) or (4), then as far as I'm concerned, I own a legit copy anyway so it's not pirating.

    Of course if what I've downloaded it crap or not what I'm after, then it's a quick one way trip to the trash.

  92. Anonymous Coward

    Tarred with the same brush.

    Im a free-tard and im proud of it. Why? because way back in the 70's i bought my music on 8 track, then, i bought the same music on LP/Single, then on cassette so i could listen to it in the car, then on CD so i could listen to it on my nice expensive stereo and then in my posher car, so quite frankly fuck em. I've paid my bit for the last 40 years over and over and i'll be damned if i'm paying again. Dont get me wrong, my software is all legal unless its shit in which case it deserves to be on a P2P site to demonstrate to others how shit it is. DVD's, not bought one for ages, but then again, i do possess some 500 original DVD's and NO i wont be upgrading to blu-ray (cant stand sony) yet and when blur-ray burners and disks do eventually come down in price i shall download all the films i have already paid for for "free".

    After all, i pay for my phone line, i pay for my interwebs, i pay for my ability to pilfer films/music etc, i then pay for the technology to do it, i pay for the disks, the paper for my lables, my boxes, printer ink (if they want to look at theft then go hammer printer manufactures and tell em to lower the price of their coloured water) so i'm not paying for them. Unless, A: i dont already own them, B: it is worth the asking price and C: is of sufficient quality to make me part with my readies. A case in point is Vista ultimate £315.00 at some outlets...Seriously, its like buying a 200 quid car and than having to pay £4000 to make it do something that i could make it do for a whole lot less.

    Oh, and yes, i am a grumpy old git.

    Been there, done that, got t-shirt.

    So, in conclusion anyone over 40 isnt a pirate. No matter how much they download.

    Fire away!!!

  93. ShaggyDoggy


    If there's that much illegal downloading, how come the economy hasn't collapsed ?

    Oh wait ...

  94. h 2


    If I remember right, they put some sort of extra tax on the blank Tapes to cover copying.

    But I for one remember the quick finger /pause button work during the top 40 countdown.


  95. lukewarmdog

    legal torrents

    This years most-eagerly-anticipated-mmo comes with limited bandwidth and so made the admirable decision to torrent the client. No idea how many downloaded it but it will have been a large number. If you scaled that up would you actually end up with more pirates than Britain has people?

  96. Anonymous Coward

    FAST - Federation Against Stupid Twits.

    - the sample size is far too small to extrapolate to all the different demographics in the population as a whole.

    - You have to account for the people who don't understand what is meant by file sharing

    - File sharing is a fuzzy term - what is meant is "illegal downloads of copyrighted material"

    I bet the response would be much lower if the question was phrased like that.

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