Government Accountability Office: Don't believe piracy studies because they're wicked flawed

You know how you read stories that say the U.S. loses X-amount of jobs per year due to piracy, or that this or that industry loses zillions of dollars per year because of piracy? The Government Accountability Office just released a new report [PDF alert!] that says that all of those reports are flawed and are completely worthless. In other words, the next time you hear the MPAA say “Downloading that DVD rip will ruin the movie industry” you can safely say, “Really? Where’s the proof?”

There’s a few things going on here. The MPAA and the like are quick to point to studies that show, for example, that the U.S. looses $200 billion per year because of piracy. That’s an old FBI study, but one that apparently nobody in the FBI can find any actual information about. Imagine writing a book report on a book that doesn’t exist—that’s sorta what Hollywood does when it cites said FBI study.

Another common flaw among these studies: they automatically assume that one download is equivalent to one lost sale. Just because some kid downloaded a Jay-Z album doesn’t mean he was ever going to buy that album in the first place. All that assumption does is heavily inflate the numbers, tilting them to the industry’s favor.

Just something to keep an eye out for.