- "Rogue websites that steal America's innovative and creative products attract more than 53 billion visits a year and threaten more than 19 million American jobs," Mark Elliot, an a U.S. Chamber of Commerce apparatchik, wrote in a letter to the New York Times. The letter had absolutely no substantiating information, but even someone as smart as David Carr, a media columnist for the Times, regurgitated that preposterously inflated statement.
- "The software industry is being robbed blind," said Business Software Alliance CEO Robert Holleyman. "Nearly $59 billion worth of products were stolen last year (2010) -- and the rates of theft are completely out of control in the world's fastest-growing markets," it reported in a study. The BSA, which is led by Microsoft, was a leading advocate for SOPA and PIPA. By way of comparison, Microsoft's revenue for that year was $62 billion. (Microsoft, by the way, spent $7.34 million on lobbying efforts last year, according to United States Senate Office of Public Records.)
- Than there's this estimate that popped up repeatedly during the debate: Piracy costs the U.S. economy between $200 and $250 billion per year, and is responsible for the loss of 750,000 American jobs.
Think about that, says the Cato Institute's Julian Sanchez. A $250 billion per year loss would be almost $800 for every man, woman, and child in America. And 750,000 jobs -- that's twice the number of those employed in the entire motion picture industry in 2010.
Even as I sit writing this post, an email from Microsoft (I had called asking for a comment) hit my inbox: "A study by Wallace Walrod, chief economic advisor to the Orange County Business Council, found that California workers lost $1.1 billion in lost wages due to software piracy in 2011" and that "California lost $1.66 billion in economic activity, almost 20,000 jobs, and $697.6 million in state and local tax revenue in 2011."
We don't need to raise the sales tax or rebuild our infrastructure to fix the struggling California economy; all we have to do is reduce software piracy by 10 percentage points in two years to add $5.7 billion in new economic activity and $880 million in additional tax revenue for California, Walrod claims.
Millions, billions, maybe trillions. Who knows? Who cares? Industry representatives and their captive analysts crank these things out, feed them to their pals in Congress and a credulous media, and kaboom! We have a crisis; we'd better pass some tough new laws.