Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Inconvenient statistics

In the exciting world of copyright politics, the buzz last week was the Business Software Alliance's annual survey of software piracy rates worldwide. It makes for fascinating reading, if you're into that kind of thing.

But I know most of you aren't, so I'll spare you the detailed study. Summarised:
  • The methodology is only vaguely described. How does the BSA arrive at these figures? It doesn't say.
  • The BSA claims that since 2004, piracy rates worldwide are up by a disturbing margin, from 35% to 41%. However, when you look at the figures for individual countries, you see that rates are down in almost every major country, and up in only 11 countries. In fact, only one country - Venezuela - shows a rise that is higher than the 6% "worldwide" figure.
    • (So, according to the BSA, the Venezuelan economy is important enough to single-handedly outweigh the entire G20. Go Chavez!)
  • The most law-abiding countries in the world are: the USA, Japan, New Zealand, Luxembourg. The most lawless are Bangladesh, Armenia, Zimbabwe and Georgia.
  • The BSA argues that the WIPO Copyright Treaty will cure what ails it. This is mystifying, since its own data shows no correlation whatever between a country's enforcement of the treaty and its piracy trends (see below).

What, you want a statistical analysis? Okeydokey. What follows is my own research, from combining the BSA's stats with the WIPO's record of countries applying its treaty. Counting only countries for whom the BSA gives data for all years from 2004 to 2008:

Number of countries that have...TotalPiracy downPiracy upNo change
Enforced the treaty since 2004 or earlier352852
Begun enforcement between 2005 and 2008131012
Signed the treaty but not yet enforced it as of 01/01/2009231931
Not signed the treaty262132

You can try other analyses if you like - the data's all public. I haven't yet come up with any approach that suggests the WCT has any effect at all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the analysis.