Donny's Blog
Genius is born--not paid. - Oscar Wilde

One Month of Torrents is Worth More Than The GDP of France

Posted: Thursday, 11:41 PM (May 18, 2006)

Update! Friday 6:03 PM, (May 19, 2006) Email From A Concerned Economist - Tim points out that if this trend continues, the world economy will collapse!. Read the full article to find out why this is happening and what you can do to stop it.

     We have all heard how the RIAA is suing people over piracy, giving figures such as "300 million dollars a year" in lost revenues due to piracy. However, what you might not have heard is that this figure is actually lowballed - they are actually losing significantly more!

     Lately we've been hearing more and more about the RIAA suing people over downloading music. Many people are skeptical of of the figures of lost revenue the RIAA reports, giving arguments like not every song downloaded equals a song that would have been bought. With all of this talk, I decided to investigate the cost of piracy, using the perfectly reasonable figures given by the RIAA: $150,000 per infringement.

     The Copyright Act permits a copyright owner to claim $150,000 per infringement, and the RIAA has been using that figure when they've sued individuals. However, they claim that they only lose 300 million per year due to piracy, which would equate to only 2000 songs downloaded per year. Clearly something is wrong - to find out the real cost of piracy, I went to to find out how many songs are downloaded in a month, in order to make a more accurate estimate of the losses to the music industry.

     First, I used the "Browse Torrents" link to view only music torrents. By browsing through the torrents, I found that (as of the time of writing) the torrents on pages 330 through 409 were all posted in January 2006. Then I wrote a quick Java program to download all those pages, parse it for the size of the torrent and the number of people who downloaded it, and made an educated guess as to how many infringements there were. If you want, you can see the raw output of my program. Here are the results:

     In January 2006, there were approximately 2370 music torrents posted. By estimating that each music file is 5 megs, we can estimate the number of infringements as the number of downloads multiplied by the estimated number of songs. I ran my program, and when I saw the results I was shocked! Using those figures, there were approximately 76,272,931 infringements caused by the torrents posted in January! Using the RIAA's value of $150,000 per infringement, the total cost to the music industry was $11,440,939,650,000!

     Now, it may be hard to grasp just how large a value that is, so I have provided a friendly chart which compares the net worth of Bill Gates, the 2005 Gross Domestic Product of France, and the cost of one month of torrents from one site:

     Yea, you see that line in the bottom left, where you can't even see what color it is because it's too small? That's Bill Gates' net worth (46.5 billion according to Forbes 2005) compared to the cost of piracy, using figures from the RIAA.

     With monthly losses of eleven trillion caused by one torrent site, it's a wonder we have a music industry at all. Please RIAA, keep on suing people, and stop letting them settle for less! Take it to the courts, make sure you get the full billion from that eleven year old girl, or the 80 year grandmother! It's well deserved, and it's the only way we can keep the music industry alive!

Forbes listing of Bill Gates' Net Worth (46.5 billion)
2005 Gross Domestic Product of France (2,105,864 million)