So there you are with your spiffy new Macbook Air, and you want to move your copy of Mac Office 2011 from your old machine. But you can't find the activation key. Oops. Too bad. But that's the price we pay to stop Microsoft and other software companies from losing $59 billion a year to piracy.
Or maybe your son got a nasty letter from a lawyer because he's been downloading too much music and videos from that Russian pirate site. That's tough on the kid, but hey, don't you know that the piracy of intellectual property could cost the world economy some $48 billion and 19 million jobs in America alone?
Mark Twain said it very well: "There are liars, damned liars, and statisticians." But that was in the 19th century. If the great writer were alive today and watched the debate over SOPA and PIPA -- acronyms for the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect Intellectual Property Act that sound like the names of twins in a Japanese animé feature -- he might say, "There are liars, damned liars, and the antipiracy police."
Nearly every tech writer I read regularly opposed SOPA and PIPA for good reason. But most of them (and me too) were always careful to add an obligatory sentence or two deploring the loss of jobs and money to piracy of music, video, and software. Fair enough, but how many of us took the time to think critically about the numbers behind the antipiracy campaign? Almost none. Think about the numbers that were routinely tossed around during the debate: