Because it would be easy enough to spend my waking hours critiquing the project methodology of anti-piracy studies, I’ve focused most of my time and energy calling for transparency, data-sharing and patience in not drawing conclusions before they are fully baked.
The most recent anti-piracy study broke last week, when the Internet Commerce Security Laboratory announced that it had found only 0.3% of all files shared on BitTorrent sites were legally distributed. Claims made as a result of the study appeared in ArsTechnica and ZDNet, among others.
TorrentFreak took a look at the study, found it flawed on several levels and published a complete and detailed assessment of the problems it found. They lament both the study and the willingness of interested media to publish its claims without digging deeper.
The two observations are inter-related. On the one hand, studies like this one (and others) make no sense. The methodologies and conclusions are pretty easy to refute, as TorrentFreak points out in a relatively short post.
But professional and mainstream media outlets continue to demonstrate an uncritical willingness to repeat these conclusions. A willingness to simply repeat what the press release said encourages both sloppy and ultimately misleading studies.
Of course, if this is a public-relations effort with a legislative endgame, the loudest and most dramatic conclusions can be of highest value. On that front, it makes perfect sense.