How the UK gov't spun 136 survey respondants into 7m infringers

Glyn sez, "The British Government's official figures on the level of illegal file
sharing in the UK come from questionable research commissioned by the music industry, the BBC has revealed. The BBC then went on to show how 136 people saying they used file-sharing software was turned into 7 million illegal file sharers – the figure now being used by the government to justify a proposal to disconnect internet users based purely on accusation, no evidence required."

The Advisory Board claimed it commissioned the research from a team of academics at University College London, who it transpires got the 7m figure from a paper published by Forrester Research.

The More or Less team hunted down the relevant Forrester paper, but could find no mention of the 7m figure, so they contacted the report's author Mark Mulligan.

Mulligan claimed the figure actually came from a report he wrote about music industry losses for Forrester subsidiary Jupiter Research. That report was privately commissioned by none other than the music trade body, the BPI…

The 7m figure had actually been rounded up from an actual figure of 6.7m. That 6.7m was gleaned from a 2008 survey of 1,176 net-connected households, 11.6% of which admitted to having used file-sharing software – in other words, only 136 people.

It gets worse. That 11.6% of respondents who admitted to file sharing was adjusted upwards to 16.3% "to reflect the assumption that fewer people admit to file sharing than actually do it." The report's author told the BBC that the adjustment "wasn't just pulled out of thin air" but based on unspecified evidence.

How UK Government spun 136 people into 7m illegal file sharers

(Thanks, Glyn!)