[LINK] EFA to AFACT: your numbers don't add up

Steven Clark steven.clark at internode.on.net
Fri Feb 18 17:54:55 AEDT 2011

*EFA to AFACT: your numbers don't add up*
By Renai LeMay, ZDNet.com.au on February 18th, 2011

*Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) has delivered a virtual slap in
the face to the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT),
picking a string of holes in research released yesterday by the group
which suggested internet piracy was costing Australia's economy $1.37
billion annually.*

During a press conference held on the set of Stephen Elliot's new
comedy, /A Few Best Men/, at Fox Studios Australia yesterday, AFACT, the
anti-piracy group that represents a number of movie and television
studios, released the results of a study conducted on its behalf by
IPSOS and Oxford Economics
The study (PDF)
said practices related to movie piracy caused a loss in revenue of $1.37
billion and of about 6100 jobs in the 12 months up to July 2010.

However, in an article posted online late last night
<http://www.efa.org.au/2011/02/17/afact-study/>, Electronic Frontiers
Australia board member and lawyer Kim Heitman <http://www.kheitman.com/>
demolished the research bit by bit, claiming that content owners were
"well known for offering up gargantuan figures that don't hold up under
real scrutiny".

For starters, he said, the report's assumption that 45 per cent of
downloads equalled lost sales was "unproven". In fact, the movie
industry was currently making record profits, and although downloads
would have an effect, this might actually be offset by the advertising
effect on future releases. Some movies that were downloaded may not have
even been available to view or buy in Australia, Heitman added,
calculated flow-on effects to other industries were "wholly speculative".

Bigger issues were also at stake, according to the lawyer.

"Peer-to-peer file sharing is merely the latest in a sequence of
technologies since the 19th century, which have been claimed to be the
ruin of the creative arts," said Heitman "The copyright owners said the
same thing about copies of sheet music, tape recorders, every iteration
of personal recording system and indeed public radio."

"Change is consumer-driven, and it's futile for the industry to try to
hold fast to a business model and methods of content distribution which
are dying with or without fierce law enforcement of copyrights."

Heitman said the EFA presumed that the release of the report was the
precursor to "a renewed campaign" for tougher penalties against file
sharing in Australia, such as a mandatory "three strikes" scheme.
However, he said, the better path lay elsewhere.

"We urge the movie industry to cease waging war on its best customers,
and instead focus on providing a more compelling offering to the
public," he wrote. "The best way to ensure future profitability is to
make quality entertainment available in an easy-to-use form, free from
cumbersome rights-restricting controls, and at a reasonable price."

EFA chair Colin Jacobs agreed.

"The industry has a habit of crying wolf with these sorts of numbers,
trying to drum up support for tougher laws," he said in a separate
"But there are many factors they don't take into account. Treating
downloads as lost economic activity is flawed, and downloaders are
actually some of the entertainment industry's best customers. The study
also ignores the effects to the wider economy of money being spent
elsewhere at Australian-owned businesses."

Jacobs too, said it was time for content owners to provide a better

"Instead of waging war against their customers — and trying to get
government help to do so — the movie industry should focus on improving
its own offering, and give customers a better alternative to the
peer-to-peer networks," said Jacobs. "History shows that customers are
happy to pay a fair price for a good product and a good service."


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