Big content is making up piracy figures

The US International Trade Commission has been told that Big Content has been spinning a yarn about the amount of cash it loses to piracy each year.

The US International Trade Commission (USITC) describes itself as “an independent, quasijudicial Federal agency with broad investigative responsibilities on matters of trade”.

Lately it has been asked by the US Senate’s Finance Committee to investigate the effect of China’s ineffective intellectual property protection on US industry.

However while many expected the committee to be hit with shed loads of figures claiming that piracy cost the industry trillions of zillions of dollars every minute, early witnesses are saying the opposite.

So far many witnesses were sceptical of the claims and assumptions made by the affected US industries, especially those by the MPAA and RIAA.

Harvard Business School Professor Fritz Foley said the logic behind industry loss figures was barking.

He told the committee that it was madness to assume that someone who would pay some low amount for a pirated product is the same person who would pay some amount that’s six or 10 [times] that amount for a real one.

Foley said the committee should beware of using information the multinational companies provide. They have an incentive to make the losses seem “very, very large.”

It is not as if the Committee has not heard that argument before. Last year the Government Accountability Office told US congress there was no evidence for the claimed million dollar losses.

An Intellectual Property law professor at Drake University Professor Peter Yu said that outfits counterfeiting products in China may employ US workers, and consume US-sourced raw materials.

VHS tapes were not a loss the movie industry claimed in the late 70s and early 80s.

The distribution of US entertainment was useful in spreading Western ideas to China.

Ohio State University law professor Daniel Chow said affected industries needed to be squeezed for more data as there is little to prove their claims at the moment.

He added that current enforcement efforts were not working and that companies should start thinking about the future.