Danish trade minister and ACTA booster apologise for bogus piracy numbers

Here's a clip of a Danish TV show discussing ACTA, which Denmark has fiercely advocated in favor of. It starts with the head of a rightsholder society and the Danish trade minister quoting dodgy statistics about the extent and cost of piracy, and then demonstrates that these statistics are patently false, and finally, brings out those responsible for quoting them and gets them to admit their errors. Priceless.

You can see both the Danish Trade Minister and the head of a Danish music rights organization (and famous Danish musician) Ivan Pedersen appear on a TV show below (with English subtitles). On the show, a well-informed presenter focuses on how both of these ACTA defenders claimed that 95% of music downloaded in Denmark was unauthorized, and carefully shows how that's simply false -- and then gets both of the ACTA defenders to admit that the numbers were wrong.

Danish Trade Minister Apologizes For Using Bogus Industry Numbers To Support Pro-ACTA Argument


  1. All very well, but do you really care that much about factual accuracy when you have the political and economic power to get your way regardless?

  2. And once one start to contemplate the international figure, one can wonder how much of it is from music that is either hard to get or expensive (as in potentially forgoing a meal or more) to get  in the nation the downloader is located.

  3. Did people used to claim that by listening to a pirate radio station in the 1960s and 70s you were stealing music? If I take a picture of the Mona Lisa, have I stolen the picture?

    1. It seems that the authorities in the Louvre are happy to allow you to take such a pic, as long as you don’t use flash. So I guess they’d say not. In the UK it’s a different story. Most museums and galleries appear to prohibit any kind of personal pictorial record. But they are generally free admission.

      Oh, and yes, btw. I distinctly remember listening to offshore radio broadcasters in my youth and that the national press (the daily mail in particular surprise surprise) and authorities in general tried quite hard to make listeners feel guilty about it.

      1. My own experience in the UK a couple years ago didn’t involve any trouble with photography at any museum, and I went to quite a few, from Edinburgh Castle to the Witchcraft Museum in Cornwall to the British Museum and the National Gallery in London. I don’t recall seeing any signs forbidding photographs in any of them, with the exception of the Crown Jewels vault and a memorial room to fallen Scottish soldiers, and they both had well-explained reasons. If this has changed, that’s, well, really depressing.

    2. The whole thing seems to boil down to “are the artists being compensated or not”. Crazy thing is that if the figures are right, the artists could sign some kind of agreement with the p2p sites and make a killing on 1% of the ad revenue. But that would leave out the real bellyachers in this, the middle men known as labels. And those are who is really pushing for the draconian laws, using a few artists that actually had success with the label system as figureheads in their verbal war.

  4. Bigger question is: why industry cannot be  sued for the lies? Is there any legal paradigm to cover that?

    If it needs monetary damages, then count how much time/effort/etc was wasted by public offices contemplating the laws which were trying to address the as-it-turned-out non-problem.

  5. So they “corrected” their number from 95% to…what?…55%? That’s still WAY to high. Especially if they try to imply that it’s 55% of all record copies, not only those online (bear in mind that a majority of record sales is still via a physical medium)

    To pseudo-quote Winston Churchill (it’s a german proverb, actually):
    “The only statistics you can trust are those you falsified yourself”

    1. It was 55% of the people asked who responded that they had gotten their latest new music from downloads. From the pie chart, that looked like 1/2 of 1/4 of the people asked, or 1/8 of all the people asked that had gotten new music within whatever time frame set as “recent”. Would have loved to know how many of the people that responded that way was students or on welfare of some kind.

      1. Would have loved to know how many of the people that responded that way was students or on welfare of some kind.

        Whatever one’s views on downloading are, that part really shouldn’t come into your argument. Either downloading is stealing or it isn’t. If it is stealing, it is stealing whether or not the person is a student. Students aren’t allowed to steal books either.

        1. No, but they often pay a significant up front fee to be allowed to copy portions of textbooks. Thing is tho that, stealing or not, the pattern seems to be that as people get  more discretionary income on hand, they stop downloading and switch to buying. This depends tho in the availability of the content in their vicinity, and how long the wait is between first hearing about it and it actually becoming available. This one can observe when a tv show or movie is hyped greatly on english language sites, but end up taking its sweet time reaching non-english nations. End result is that the segment of the non-english nations that have a usable understanding of english download rather than wait. And that segment invariably is the young and the educated that spend as much time on english sites as those of their own language. In essence, the issue is much more complicated than a “stealing or not stealing” dichotomy.

  6. Of course, it is worth mentioning that pirates and their supporters go to great lengths to frustrate collection of accurate statistics, so it’s impossible to obtain accurate figures in the first place.

    It is, then, a little unfair of the pro-piracy camp to protest that the anti-piracy camp is giving inaccurate figures, since the former is deliberately preventing the latter from having such information, while simultaneously (and usually without as little support as e.g. IPFI or BSA) always claiming that the actual numbers are smaller than any estimate that may turn up in the press.

    It also doesn’t matter much whether people who steal have no money. You might argue that there is no opportunity loss (since the artist would never have been paid by that person anyway), but that misses two important points:

    1. People who have no money *now* may not have no money for the rest of time. It’s quite likely that they will have, at some point, enough money that they could buy the product (music, software, movie or TV show) in question. It’s also quite likely that if they already “own” a pirated copy, they won’t bother.

    2. Allowing one group to pay nothing and get your product DEVALUES YOUR PRODUCT IN THE EYES OF OTHER CONSUMERS. So there are people who *do* have the money who now won’t pay because (a) they don’t see why they should if person Y didn’t, and (b) their perception of the value of the product is reduced.

    Both sides are guilty of over-simplifying their positions, and undoubtedly the silly estimates of the “total damage to industry X” put out in press releases are inaccurate. However, piracy does hurt people (not just big corporations or collecting associations), and it is morally repugnant to suggest that it should be allowed to flourish unnecessarily and without challenge.

    1. All ethics aside, I would not put too much trust in a business model based entirely on the idea of artificial scarcity. Then again the bottled water companies had a decent run despite the government run ‘pirates’ distributing all that cheap or free water.

      1. This by selling on convenience and quality. But as it stands, the MKV may well hold better quality than the BR disc (quality above and beyond the issue of bitrates and encoding formats, like the ability to be instantly gratified with the push of a button).

    2. “Of course, it is worth mentioning that pirates and their supporters go to great lengths to frustrate collection of accurate statistics, so it’s impossible to obtain accurate figures in the first place.”

      Yea, who will cop to a potential legal issue if they can avoid it? Seems we can observe the same in Spain where they have legalized the possession and use of narcotics. End result is that more people are seeking help to quit as they no longer risk prosecution.

  7. My favorite part of this is when Ivan Pedersen appears on the show (around 8 minutes in), admits he was incorrect in his previous reporting, and offers a revised statement of piracy based on new statistics. He does it in a very mature and dignified manner. It’s so much better than hearing the typical “No further comment” rehash.

    1. I like to think that it’s more than made up for by (largely) American organisations being so vociferous about how inconvenient and unfair free speech and actual democracy is to their racketeering.

      Frankly, I’m shocked they haven’t claimed that 200% of all downloads are copyright infringement that directly aids terrorists and should be punished by a 5 billion dollar fine and the death penalty.

  8.  I agree that piracy can and does hurt people.  The problem is that the so-called “anti-piracy” lobby can and do hurt far more people, mostly innocent, frequently just to prove they can., or because they can’t be bothered to follow the law.

    Piracy also can, and does, help artists. Yes, seriously.  There are a lot of studies showing it. (When Napster was shut down, music sales plummeted. Not a coincidence.)  The interaction of who gets helped and who gets hurt is complex and not well understood. 

    Unlike the interaction of who gets hurt with the content industry, which is simpler: all artists and customers who deal with them, get robbed by a sophisticated entrenched mechanism of theft far more brutal than the pirates.  (But legal, so there’s no recourse.)

    It’s also a little unfair of you to protest that the pro-piracy camp is preventing the opposition from having accurate information, since the truth is exactly the other way around. The EFF, etc. have spent years campaigning for open, independent examination of the data, because they know it proves their point. The music labels spent years repeatedly refusing to release any data for independent study, and sometimes burying studies they commissioned themselves, because they were terrified they might find out they were wrong.

  9. Two points from the video:
    1): Half the people who downloaded music had paid for it. It was specifically mentioned that it wasn’t know how many of the unpaid downloads were illegal (as there is a lot of music you can legally download for free, e.g. from the artists’ own websites). This means that likely far less than half the downloads are illegal.
    2): IFPI refused to release the data behind their 95% claim. When a non-neutral party refuses to provide data for claims that support their point of view, how trustworthy are those claims? Yet the Minister for Trade still said that figure was right 3 years ago.

  10. I like how they conflate “the music was paid for” with “the artist received the money”. Which is of course COMPLETELY false. The MIDDLE MEN received the money. The artist may have received nothing, or even LOST money, by having a successful single. Very few artists are big enough to see the benefit from these draconian laws. Most struggling artists (and a great many not-so-struggling ones) would (and do) give away their music for free if it encouraged greater concert attendance. Unlike recorded music, the artist is generally (reasonably) fairly compensated for concerts.

  11. It is quite, QUITE, impossible to measure infringement on the Internet.

    “The evil bit” (google that phrase if you don’t know it) was an April Fool’s joke nearly a decade ago, not something that’s actually been implemented in the IP protocol stack. And without a mechanism like that, there is no way for anyone observing network traffic to discern whether any particular packet carries infringing content or not.

    This has nothing at all to do with any obfuscation being deliberately undertaken; it’s a basic precept of network engineering.   We can only see what’s visible from our limited vantage points: our routers, our networks, our hosts.  (Analogy: we can only stand on the streetcorners in our town.  We don’t see cars going by one town over.) Granted, we can combine our observations with those of others doing the same, but even when we run particularly large network or particularly active hosts, our joint statistics are not only completely inadequate to allow a global assessment, but they only allow compilation of basic statistics at the ASN/network/port/protocol/host level.  (In other words: we can make a statement like “we saw X amount of HTTP traffic going from A to B”.   There’s no way for us to know whether what was in it was infringing or not.)

    Many (many!) of the charlatans and frauds who have gotten into the business of spamming mass DMCA takedown notices claim that they have “super-secret” algorithms that allow them to solve this problem.  They are all, without exception, lying.

    Only in the most contrived, fortuitous, and simplistic cases can we arrive at such conclusions, e.g., were I able to use tcpdump to capture an entire FTP transfer across one of my networks, able to then reconstruct the file transferred, able then to uniquely identify it as one covered by some form of copyright, able then to identify both sender and recipient (who, let’s note, might be the same person), able then to prove that sender has transferred said file to recipient in violation of applicable copyright laws, and able then to positively identify sender and recipient as personally responsible for this transmission…only then could I reasonably make the legally-defensible claim that infringement occurred.

    tl;dr version: ALL the statistics being thrown around are total bullshit.

  12. While I, for one, welcome clueful interviewers at every opportunity, I can’t quite quash the ‘too little, too late’ feeling…

    I suspect that team ACTA would be perfectly happy to hire spokesweasels to wear any amount of sackcloth and ashes and endure whatever public abasement we should wish, so long as they get their laws. 

    Unless calling them on their nonsense reduces the efficacy of their nonsense, one is reduced to winning moral victory points. 

  13. It is very funny to hear Mr. Ivan Pedersen complain of people stealing his music. No one in Denmark knows Ivan Pedersen. Being a dane, I have listened to all kinds of danish music in the last forty years, and I have never heard of the guy.

      1. Well. Before you said that, I had no idea who Mr. Pedersen was. Now you say it, I have indeed heard of Laban. I don’t (and that’s not a lie) knowingly know any of their tunes, however. When Mr. Pedersen claims people are stealing “his” music, he appears to be delusional.

      2. Now I looked them up. Laban’s and Mr. Pedersen’s greatest hit ever was “Hvor skal vi sove i nat”. The irony – that tune was copied from “Sarà perché ti amo” by the Italian group “Ricchi e Poveri”. I wonder if Laban remembered to send royalties to Italy each and every time “Hvor skal vi sove i nat” was played?

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