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posted by Fnord666 on Monday September 25, @05:53PM   Printer-friendly
from the surprising dept.

Last week, Minister of the European Parliament, Julia Reda, unearthed a well-hidden 2014 study financed by the European Commission entitled Estimating displacement rates of copyrighted content in the EU [warning: PDF] that studied the effects of copyright infringement on sales. The study cost 360,000 EUR to carry out and although it was ready in 2015, it was only made public last week when Reda was able to get ahold of a copy.

The study's conclusion was that with the exception of recently released blockbusters, there is no evidence to support the idea that online copyright infringement displaces sales. This conclusion is consistent with previous studies, and raises the following question: "Why did the Commission, after having spent a significant amount of money on it, choose not to publish this study for almost two years?"


Original Submission

Related Stories

Three EU Governments Want to Give Record Labels Control Over What We Can and Can't Post Online 25 comments

Julia Reda, Member of the European Parliament representing Germany, writes about a proposed EU law which would require sites to monitor and censor posts and any other uploaded material. Leaked material shows that at least three governments are actively working to make this happen.

The governments of France, Spain and Portugal want to double down on a law proposed by the European Commission that would force all kinds of internet platforms to install a "censorship machine" to surveil all uploads and try to prevent copyright infringement. They want to add to the Commission proposal that platforms need to automatically remove media that has once been classified as infringing, regardless of the context in which it is uploaded ("staydown").

By law, every video clip of your cat that you share with an app would need to pass through filters controlled by media companies. Essentially, they would have a veto right to any upload to the internet. These filters would be unable to safeguard your rights to quote, to make parodies, and to use existing works in any other way allowed under copyright exceptions.

The examples most talked about are videos, but even comments and source code would be affected. As currently written, the proposed law would effectively ban a diverse range of sites, including SN or even Githhub. The relevancy for those outside the EU is that if the proposal goes through as is, then calls for "harmonization" would be used to spread the rules to other regions of the world.

Previously:
EU Study Finds Even Publishers Oppose the "Link Tax"
Hidden 2015 European Commission Report on Copyright Infringement
EU Council Presidency Questions Extra Copyright, but Endorses Censorship
Pirate Party MEP Says That Current EU Piracy Filtering Proposals Are Being Sabotaged
Reda Report Adopted: A Turning Point in the EU Copyright Debate
Julia Reda, the Only Pirate in the European Parliament, Weighs in on Copyright


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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by jummama on Monday September 25, @06:14PM (17 children)

    by jummama (3969) on Monday September 25, @06:14PM (#572732)

    Why did the Commission, after having spent a significant amount of money on it, choose not to publish this study for almost two years?

    Quite simply, because it doesn't fit the narrative. Monied interests want everyone to believe in the lost-sale fallacy, and this report doesn't help.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 25, @06:31PM (16 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 25, @06:31PM (#572741)

      This is obviously true but it really makes one wonder why?

      You would think that these interests would be interested in their bottom line above all. Nonetheless they (and by "they" I'm converting these interests to the likely corporate players behind them) spend immense amounts of money, time, and manpower developing ever more methods of trying to deter copyright infringement. These methods in many cases even end up detrimental to the usage of genuine users.

      There seems to be a chronic epidemic in America of "I know I'm right, so I don't care about anything except data that also says I'm right"ism. It ranges all the way from the individual to politicians to billion dollar multinational corporations. We would seemingly rather be wrong and lie to ourselves than risk having to admit our previous views were flawed.

      • (Score: 5, Informative) by arcz on Monday September 25, @07:06PM (7 children)

        by arcz (4501) on Monday September 25, @07:06PM (#572753) Journal

        But is that true? Can we really assume that they believe what they're saying?
        What they really want is for it to be impossible to watch content not produced by Big Media. All content will be supervised. All devices will only play content from Big Media. You must pay a license fee to watch media. That way Big Media is paid for all content on the Internet. Anything that doesn't require a license (non-DRM content) will be made illegal, if Big Media gets what it wants. Big Media wants to get rid of Small Media, plain and simple.

        DVD-encryption rippers for example are considered bad by Big Media not because of piracy, but because they allow you to watch DVDs on a free operating system, such as Linux. Linux isn't controlled by people who would cooperate with Big Media, so Linux is bad. Big Media wants Microsoft, Apple, and Sony to be dominant because they support Big Media.

        The real purpose of DRM is not to protect copyrighted content from copyright infringement, but to make it harder for you to watch small media by forcing you into locked down platforms and ecosystems.

        • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 25, @08:23PM (6 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 25, @08:23PM (#572778)

          The real purpose of DRM is not to protect copyrighted content from copyright infringement, but to make it harder for you to watch small media by forcing you into locked down platforms and ecosystems.

          This may be a desirable outcome for the movie studios but I don't think it is the real purpose because the actual results don't support it. Anyone can burn a blu-ray disc today and it will play in any blu-ray player on any TV (modulo broken devices because most manufacturers in this space don't care at all about quality control).

          We can follow the money. The true intentions must be the revenue that studios are actually getting from this scheme. The results are that DRM allows movie studios to collect royalties from manufacturers that otherwise would have no reason to pay them.

          Let's consider blu-ray players and TVs.

          First, you brib^H^H^H^Hlobby governments and make it illegal to bypass DRM schemes under any circumstances. It is vitally important that there are no meaningful interoperability exceptions to these rules, otherwise the next steps will not work. A massive PR campaign about how "piracy" is evil helps you convince officials that such laws are morally justified.

          Next, whenever you produce a blu-ray disc with your movie on it, you protect it by your DRM scheme (AACS in this case). Bonus points if you can convince unrelated third parties to use your DRM scheme by making them believe it benefits them somehow (it doesn't). A massive PR campaign about how DRM helps defend against evil "piracy" will help you convince these parties that this is the right thing to do.

          Now you control the blu-ray player market. A blu-ray player that can't play the latest hollywood blockbuster is guaranteed to fail in the market. In order to play your movies, the player manufacturers have to come to you, sign your license agreement, and pay you fees. This includes a per-device royalty. Legitimate manufacturers have to do this because any other way is illegal.

          Part of that license agreement includes the requirement to implement a DRM scheme on your video outputs (HDCP in this case) whenever a "protected" disc is played. This gives you control of the TV market for similar reasons -- A TV that does not work with blu-ray players to watch the latest hollywood blockbuster is guaranteed to fail in the market. Again, the TV manufacturers have to come to you, sign your license agreement, and pay you fees, including a per-device royalty. Legitimate manufacturers have to do this because any other way is illegal.

          • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 25, @08:37PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 25, @08:37PM (#572785)

            Rent seeking -> capitalism 2.0

            History has shown this to be a terrible path forward which more often than not results in bloody rebellion.

          • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 25, @09:20PM (4 children)

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 25, @09:20PM (#572798)

            This may be a desirable outcome for the movie studios but I don't think it is the real purpose because the actual results don't support it. Anyone can burn a blu-ray disc today and it will play in any blu-ray player on any TV (modulo broken devices because most manufacturers in this space don't care at all about quality control).

            Not for lack of trying. If the movie studios completely had their way, all types of recording devices would be outlawed, starting with the VCR. Remember this?

            I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone. -- Motion Picture Association of America head Jack Valenti

            They lost that fight, bud did manage to eventually work around it, so, for example, a completely legal activity (making backup copies, or repairing "your" stuff) is now made illegal by the mere presence of even the simplest DRM.

            • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 25, @09:49PM (2 children)

              by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 25, @09:49PM (#572806)

              Not for lack of trying. If the movie studios completely had their way, all types of recording devices would be outlawed, starting with the VCR. Remember this?

              Yes. I do agree that the major studios would love this outcome but it is separate from the scourge of DRM.

              They lost that fight, bud did manage to eventually work around it, so, for example, a completely legal activity (making backup copies, or repairing "your" stuff) is now made illegal by the mere presence of even the simplest DRM.

              It is indeed a ridiculous situation. But in reality, laws against breaking DRM have no real direct effect against individuals, because enforcement in this case is virtually impossible. Such laws make it somewhat harder for individuals to obtain DRM-breaking tools, but it's not particularly effective at this.

              What such laws do achieve, is to prevent legitimate manufacturers from building interoperable devices unless they license your DRM scheme. When you have enough clout in the market (like the major movie studios do), this effectively forces everyone building interoperable products to follow whatever rules you make up.

              • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 25, @10:11PM (1 child)

                by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 25, @10:11PM (#572817)

                No real direct effect? Having to break the law to make a backup, or play your media on a different device, pretty damn direct!

                Add on the various other amounts of bullshit DRM directly/indirectly adds to everyone's lives and it is much more than just device licensing. If they want to ruin some "hacker's" life they can just throw in any DRM violations they can find. Quickly some young adult finds themselves owing millions of dollars in fines, potential jail time, etc. unless they "play ball".

                • (Score: 2) by bzipitidoo on Wednesday September 27, @01:36AM

                  by bzipitidoo (4388) on Wednesday September 27, @01:36AM (#573603) Journal

                  As the years roll by, I am heartened by the observation that their propaganda becomes more and more untenable and flat out ridiculous. Their unreasonableness (such as unskippable advertisements), greed, extremity and dirty tactics of suing children and grandmothers has succeeded only in hastening the end of copyright as we know it. They even screw over the artists they depend upon.

                  I have some friends who long ago believed their propaganda. Didn't bat an eye when industry equated copying with stealing. Most of the believers had a change of heart when industry forced them to miss episodes of their favorite shows because they weren't allowed to time shift, or otherwise inconvenienced them with extreme and unreasonable DRM. I haven't checked recently with the wannabe authors among them-- they were the most rabid in support of copyright. If they still accept the notion that copying is stealing, they would be the only people I know who do.

                  I've gotten more compliments on my Pirate Bay t-shirt than any other shirt I've ever owned. I was a little nervous about wearing it when I first got it some years ago. Now I'm glad I did it. Even dared to wear it in front of a bunch of SF/Fantasy authors at a convention. I kept hammering them with a question about how they felt their SF could be realistic and futuristic if it contained antiquated notions of copyright, and none of them could come up with a satisfactory answer. Mercedes Lackey, their guest of honor, actually took the time to lecture me personally on how the publishing industry really works. What she described sounded dreadfully old fashioned and wasteful. She summed up with an intimation that anyone who advocated for the abolishment of copyright and didn't understand the industry was an idiot. I also once sent a letter to Piers Anthony and he actually replied. He said he didn't agree with me on copyright, stating that it was the only defense authors such as himself had from being exploited and forced to quit writing for a living.

                  Of course, many SF works entirely bypass that issue. Oh well, been years since I heard of any quality, must read SF. From what I hear, Cory Doctorow is one of the few who gets it. I found Ursula LeGuin particularly disappointing. She's such a liberal, except on copyright where she's a fierce protector of her supposed rights. I suppose old age has made her more conservative. Seems adherence to the printed book format for a living has blinded and stupefied almost all authors on this issue.

            • (Score: 2) by sjames on Tuesday September 26, @06:06PM

              by sjames (2882) on Tuesday September 26, @06:06PM (#573328) Journal

              Beyond that, they snatched (our) defeat from the jaws of victory with the DVR. Note how unlike video tapes, they can poof your recordings at any time, only record what they want to let you record, and no way to take a video to a friend's house to share.

      • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 25, @07:31PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 25, @07:31PM (#572757)

        You would think that these interests would be interested in their bottom line above all.

        They are. Except you are forgetting that they inhabit an alternate reality world where they believe that if it were made impossible to pirate content, that all those pirates would immediately begin paying the content distributors their fees they are due for consuming the content. And in that alternate reality, creating a system that makes it impossible to consume content without paying a 'protection fee' produces a huge boost to the bottom line.

        This report, however, shows that what we have been saying for years is actually true. Those who obtain your (as in 'big distributor co.') content on the pirate market will never become paying customers, instead they will simply do without the content if they can not acquire it via the pirate market.

        • (Score: 5, Interesting) by frojack on Monday September 25, @09:50PM

          by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Monday September 25, @09:50PM (#572808) Journal

          Those who obtain your (as in 'big distributor co.') content on the pirate market will never become paying customers, instead they will simply do without the content if they can not acquire it via the pirate market.

          Well it depends on the media involved.

          Their survey coughed up a 30% probability that illegal consumption (pirate) kills off a legal consumption (sale).

          In sum, OLS estimates with the usual control variables indicate that first legal
          views of recent top films are displaced by illegal first views at a rate of 30 per
          cent. Panel model estimates with fixed effects indicate a displacement rate of
          40 per cent.

          This study's estimate wasn't all that far from the industry experts ("panel") who estimated 40% sales kill.

          Measuring the negative side of the question is a lot harder, and the logic in the study is much more tortured. They never actually measured true walk-away rates. (If not free - will walk away).

          The closest they could come is measuring how much more than zero would the pirate pay for convenience and speed of a paid source.

          On page 164 they point out that for some media (books/games/music) a substantial portion of pirates (51 to 66 percent) might be willing to pay MORE than the market price to have it convenient and NOW.

          For movies and TV-series, 80 percent of pirates would not be willing to pay the market rate for convenience. (Which still leaves 20% that would be willing).

          However since every movie/tv show ends up on free TV within a year or three, (which is not the same as music or books or games - which may never be free - or even available), this reluctance of 80% of pirates to pay the going rate may reflect simply the willingness to wait for the inevitable free availability - which they view as a certainty.

          --
          No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by jcross on Monday September 25, @08:34PM (2 children)

        by jcross (4009) Subscriber Badge on Monday September 25, @08:34PM (#572784)

        I wonder if the intention of the moneyed interests is actually to make the back-catalog of media less accessible. After all it very well might compete with current blockbusters in a significant way. I'm guessing the analysis tested whether pirated copies of, say, "The Godfather" compete with legit sales of the "The Godfather", and the answer was no. But watching "The Godfather" by any means will be three hours you're not spending watching the latest blockbuster. Check out the following decision tree one might follow when looking for something to watch:

        1. I heard this classic film was good, or I saw it a long time ago and all I remember is I loved it.
        2. Is it included with my NetHuluPrimeazon subscription? Nope.
        3. Is it cheap/easy to stream it? Nope.
        4. Is it on "The Pirate Bay" with a decent number of seeders?
        5. Yep => Download and watch the film.
        6. Nope => Oh well, guess I'll watch this new shit on NetHuluPrimeazon.

        The media companies can control steps 2 and 3 by keeping artificially high prices on their back catalog, but they can't control steps 4 and 5 without getting government to help. If they can make the minimum cost of steps 2-5 high enough, they can force us to jump straight to step 6. The deeper the pile of excellent older content grows, the more their strategy makes sense.

        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by frojack on Monday September 25, @09:59PM (1 child)

          by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Monday September 25, @09:59PM (#572814) Journal

          This seems to be my take on what the study showed - (not that I'm impressed with the methodology). They never measured any of this directly, but were able to come close to your scenario.

          For current content, people are often content to just wait. First run movies of today may well be free on TV with in 8 months or less. Ir it will be included free in NetHuluPrimeazon in less time. I know I would mostly just wait as pay movie fees or even bother downloading. There's a good chance I'll forget about it in the mean time. (Saving both time and money)

          For GOOD classics, They come around once every year on free-ish TV. For crap classics - who cares.

          --
          No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
          • (Score: 2) by fyngyrz on Tuesday September 26, @03:48PM

            by fyngyrz (6567) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday September 26, @03:48PM (#573194) Homepage Journal

            For current content, people are often content to just wait.

            Yep. I haven't been to a movie theater in decades now. And I don't watch broadcast television, either. I just buy the blueray (used to be, the dvd.) That way I can be assured that I will at least have the movie for some number of years, and I won't need an Internet connection to play it, either.

            I don't get to see whatever it is first, or early, but frankly, I don't care. I get to see it anyway.

            --
            The eyes are the windows to the soul.
            Sunglasses are the window shades.
      • (Score: 2) by frojack on Monday September 25, @08:54PM (2 children)

        by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Monday September 25, @08:54PM (#572793) Journal

        There seems to be a chronic epidemic in America of "I know I'm right,

        Maybe you missed the part that said:

        2014 study financed by the European Commission

        This pretty much indicates that this is not an American fault as much as a human fault.

        Further, people are pretty good about admitting previous views were flawed, given proper evidence, unless there is a financial (or other) penalty involved.

        There's often an argument about what constitutes proper evidence, especially with low budget** government studies (and this one was clearly low-budget).

        It was clear from the get-go that the powers that be ran away from this study the minute they saw the first draft, forcing the inclusion of a disclaimer right up front:

        LEGAL NOTICE
        This document has been prepared for the European Commission however it reflects the views only of the
        authors,
        and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information
        contained therein.

        With that ringing endorsement, its no wonder nobody wanted to be seen pushing this study out the door, especially in 2015. [theguardian.com] Who wants to piss off big donation sources with weak evidence in the run up to a major election cycle?

        So low quality evidence AND financial penalties!! This thing had the kiss of death on it from the start.

        **How low budget was it?
        7 writers wrote (and translated) a summary of results of an online questionnaire in September and October 2014
        among the internet using population with close to 30,000 self-selected respondents (5,000 for each of the six countries).
        Email interviews were apparently done with some industry sources as well as a automated literature scan.

        All this for 360,000 EUR, which comes out to about 50,000 EUR per analyst, which is less than half what your typical data analyst in the EU earns per year. [paysa.com]

        --
        No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 25, @09:31PM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 25, @09:31PM (#572803)

          > Further, people are pretty good about admitting previous views were flawed, given proper evidence, unless there is a financial (or other) penalty involved.

          Flat-Earthers still exist.

          • (Score: 3, Funny) by frojack on Monday September 25, @10:02PM

            by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Monday September 25, @10:02PM (#572815) Journal

            And hold meetings, and drink beer and go out to dinner.
            Other clubs wear silly hats and drink beer and go out to dinner and hold meetings.
            Still others watch football (any variety) and eat pizza and drink bear and hold flags.

            --
            No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 25, @06:15PM (6 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 25, @06:15PM (#572734)

    The study didn't reach the desired conclusion, so it will be hidden, a new study will be conducted, and the party that conducted this study will not be hired again.

    • (Score: 4, Funny) by mhajicek on Monday September 25, @06:25PM (5 children)

      by mhajicek (51) on Monday September 25, @06:25PM (#572738)

      The party responsible for sacking the previous responsible party has been sacked.

      • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 25, @07:08PM (4 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 25, @07:08PM (#572754)

        Python references are always good for a +n Funny :-)

        • (Score: 4, Funny) by maxwell demon on Monday September 25, @07:57PM (2 children)

          by maxwell demon (1608) Subscriber Badge on Monday September 25, @07:57PM (#572772) Journal

          Then this [readthedocs.io] should be a source of endless laughing. ;-)

          --
          The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
          • (Score: 2) by vux984 on Monday September 25, @08:08PM (1 child)

            by vux984 (5045) on Monday September 25, @08:08PM (#572775)

            Hah. Going into it with a 'monty python' as my frame of reference, and then skimming the first few paragraphs... I got a very decidely... pythonesque... or at least Douglas Adam's vibe from it; and I wasn't immediately sure if it was serious or satire...

            Notes

            Update 01/06/2015.

            This project is put on the back-burner now. However, I aim to finish uploading the materials sometime this year.

            Update 18/01/2015.

            Moving all the contents from word files to Sphinx project has proven to be more time consuming than I originally thought. Getting the ver. 1.0 ready will take weeks.

            Update

            Moving stuff from Word files into reStructuredText is tedious. This is work in progress as of January 2015.

            :p

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 25, @08:56PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 25, @08:56PM (#572794)

              The language's name, Python, is a Monte Python reference, and MP references are encouraged in the example code snippets.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 25, @08:12PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 25, @08:12PM (#572776)

          i thought of the three stooges: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_Sy6oiJbEk [youtube.com]

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