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Jun 27, 2014

Graham Burke -- unsafe at any download speed

The priceless examples of copyright industry stupidity keep rolling out as the government prepares for its war on filesharing.

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Recently Crikey discussed the claims of that self-appointed scourge of pirates, Village Roadshow’s elderly chairman Graham Burke, best known for being a self-confessed “tax rorter” and smoker of “funny stuff”. Well since then, Burke  — one of Attorney-General George Brandis’s aides-de-camp in the government’s coming war on filesharing — has been engaged in a kind of one-man berserker attack on Australian ISP iiNet, the company that famously took on and defeated the copyright cartel over efforts to make ISPs responsible for their customers’ filesharing. Yesterday, in responding to iiNet’s Steve Dalby, Burke went over whatever remaining tops he hasn’t yet gone over and claimed, Ralph Nader style:

“iiNet are selling a car which happens to kill people on the roads, so they should be paying towards that. It’s the car that’s faulty. In this instance it’s the fault of the car, not the driver.”

That will come as a shock to iiNet and its staff, who presumably thought they were in the carriage service business, not automobiles, and possibly to the many people who now discover they been killed by filesharing. Or maybe Burke meant filesharing of car movies … actually come to think of it, anyone pirating the Fast and Furious movies probably does deserve jail time. Although we didn’t mind Drive, either the Ryan Gosling one or the original one from the ’70s, especially the bit where Ryan O’Neal trashes the Merc.

ANYWAY.

What caught our eye was Burke’s claims, as rendered by the good folk of CNet, that graduated response schemes (i.e. three strikes and you’re cut off the internet) had worked:

“He cited similar initiatives in France and the “gold standard” of Korea, where he said the industry went from ‘literally facing extinction’ to a 77 percent reduction in piracy and a 1,300 percent increase in legal digital downloads following the introduction of three strikes.”

As Crikey has long explained, the copyright cartel is, after the IT security industry, the single biggest source of bullshit statistics on the planet. So we went looking for where Burke had got those highly specific numbers from, and could find no online source of any kind for them.

Indeed, when it comes to the “gold standard” for data about the impact of graduated response schemes, this work by Australian Rebecca Giblin is it. Giblin was unable to find verifiable evidence that graduated response schemes had worked anywhere — not in France (which the copyright cartel used to call the “gold standard”, until the French, tragically, dumped graduated response), not in New Zealand, where there was a huge surge in encrypted traffic, and not in South Korea. The only “evidence” ever produced to prove “three strikes” works comes from the copyright cartel itself, and is never peer-reviewed — and often not even made public.

Still, if it produces more wacky-tobaccy mixed metaphors from Burke, we’re all for him continuing his filesharing jihad.

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