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Radio show cries foul on '7 million pirates' claim in UK

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 04 Sep 2009 21:50 User comments (5)

Radio show cries foul on '7 million pirates' claim in UK When a recent report from the Strategic Advisory Board for Intellectual Property - a UK government advisory board - claimed seven million people in the UK use file sharing for illegal downloading, the news made headlines. Part of the attention given to the figure came from the 85 page report's estimated billions in economic losses and thousands of job losses each year due to illegal downloading.
However, the More or Less radio program that airs on BBC Radio 4 decided to find how the 7 million figure came about. The Advisory Board said the report was commissioned by a team at University College London, which pointed to Forrester Research for the 7 million figure. However, the cited paper did not include any reference to 7 million illegal downloaders in the UK.

More of Less then contacted one of the authors of the paper, Mark Mulligan, and figured out that the 7 million figure actually came from a report he had written for a subsidiary of Forrester called Jupiter Research. The peculiar thing about this particular paper is who it was commissioned by - the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), a trade group representing music firms in the UK.

Putting aside the extremely convenient mix-up with the cited source for the figures, how the number was reached is even more peculiar. A 2008 survey of 1,176 Internet-equipped households found 11.6 percent (136) of respondents admitting to use of file sharing software. The 11.6 percent was then adjusted to 16.3 percent to include people who wouldn't admit to the practice.

Mulligan did defend this assumption however, saying it wasn't pulled out of thin air, but was based on some evidence. However, the research makes another assumption that there were 40 million people online in the UK during 2008. The Office of National Statistics itself contradicts this figure, estimating that in 2008, 33.9 million people were online in the UK.

The research concluded that there was around 6.7 million file sharers in the UK - which was rounded up to 7 million. If you throw away the assumptions in the report, the figure falls to 3.9 million. Of course, the accuracy of even that number is questionable, but the difference is that an inflated number was fed to the UK government, with much of the research stemming from a BPI-commissioned study.

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5 user comments

14.9.2009 23:50

This is a very interesting read I'm kinda speechless on this

25.9.2009 2:55

well going by their figures, everyone that owns a computer is a pirate as every person i know has downloaded something some time, somewhere in some way shape or form. what a bunch of retards making up numbers.

35.9.2009 3:56

Sounds like the BS they use for suspected drug users:

Do you smoke weed?
Yes = Yes
No = Yes, but won't admit it

Do you download illigaly?
Yes = Yes
No = Yes, but won't admit it

Did you have sexual relations with that women?
Can you define the word "is"?

45.9.2009 6:35

think of a really big number, double it , round it up to the nearest million then if you think the number is to small start again by thinking of an even bigger number. eventually you will end up with a number you're happy with. Then! you can feed that number to some thieving politician(

everything I did was within the rules"

56.9.2009 14:57

Mark Mulligan, what the F is the matter with you?

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