Secret Australian Piracy Report Revealed and Debunked

Last week the Australian press referred to a study that claimed piracy was causing the local economy $900 million in losses, yet the report was carefully hidden from the public. After pressure from multiple sides the report has now finally been published, revealing significant flaws. The report appears to be nothing more that a direct translation of a bogus piracy study that aimed to mislead EU legislators last year.

Two days ago, we revealed how a report on the economic impact of Internet piracy in Australia was so secretive that the journalists reporting on it hadn’t seen it. Even established researchers wrote in to TorrentFreak complaining about the secrecy.

It now seems that the building pressure has had an effect. After multiple phone calls, emails and even filing a freedom of information request with the Attorney General who quoted the report, it was finally made public a few hours ago.

So now that the report has been published, what are we dealing with? Well, it turns out that the ‘study’ is nothing more than a direct translation of one of the most questioned piracy reports that has ever been published.

It is entirely based on the EU-focused “Building a Digital Economy” report that was released by TERA Consultants last year. On the one hand this explains why a ‘real-estate” company could have easily penned it, as no original analysis was needed. But it also means that previous flaws were copied.

For one, the report suggests that there’s a direct correlation between Internet traffic growth and lost jobs. That is, the more traffic that is generated on the Internet, the more money will be lost. This correlation is 1 according to the report, which assumes that all growth in Internet traffic will increase piracy at the same rate.

Just to illustrate how twisted this line of reasoning is, by following the same logic one should conclude that by getting a 5 times faster connection, people will automatically watch 5 times more videos on YouTube, and visit 5 times as many websites. It’s easy to see that this makes no sense whatsoever.

This absurd logic is accompanied by the age old fable that there’s a direct correlation between piracy volume and lost sales. The report states that more traffic will mean more piracy and thus more lost revenue. It does not account for the fact that people might consume higher quality media which is greater in file-size. All projections are based on bandwidth and not the number of pirated goods.

For a complete list of fallacies, errors and misleading assumptions we refer to our previous coverage on the original report.

To us, it is absolutely incomprehensible that Australia’s Attorney General considers this report as a basis for shaping future copyright law. Aside from the fact that it was commissioned by the entertainment industry and carried out by a company that is not even four months old, it should be disregarded based on the horrible methodology.

The Australian Pirate Party, who helped with our attempts to uncover the report and the people behind it, has to be applauded for obtaining the report through a Freedom of Information request. We suspect that without this pressure, the document may have never been released so quickly.

“As taxpayers, as electors, we are entitled to transparency from our lawmakers,” Pirate Party Australia’s Rodney Serkowski told TorrentFreak.

“Now we see the reasons for their opacity. It is a study riddled with issues, and the Attorney General must now explain how he could be so easily mislead and rely on such industry propaganda, which is used as justification to impose stricter enforcement, compromising fundamental rights like privacy.”

The report, with all its flaws and shortcomings, once again reveals to what lengths the entertainment industry is willing to go in order to mislead politicians. A sad state of affairs, and let’s hope that now that it’s out, the Australian press will again pick up on it to address its validity.

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