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TorrentFreak seeking copyright report’s mysterious author

Update: Sphere Analysis report now published

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A report that pump-primes the idea that Australia is a nation of inveterate pirates is starting to unravel, with a report on TorrentFreak questioning the bona fides of the report’s author.

The study, which alleged the usual extreme extent of Internet piracy – a billion-dollar burden on the economy destroying thousands of jobs – was picked up uncritically by Australia’s Fairfax press, given both a short news piece and a long feature article in the Sun Herald (a two-page spread in the print publication).

However, according to TorrentFreak – and confirmed by this author – the authors of the report, Sphere Analysis, is much harder to find than most consulting firms. Its business name first entered Australia’s business names database last October, but the company has neither a Website nor any easily-discoverable address.

Its nearest relative, as identified in the TorrentFreak article, appears to be Sphere Property Corporation, which without a Website is difficult to find. The Register notes that it appears to have an office in Oxford Street, Bondi Junction.

Also noted by TorrentFreak is an apparent association between the report and a brand-new lobby organization, the Australian Industry Content Group. While it is also a new voice in the debate, it already appears to have contacts in the Federal Government.

Not only does TorrentFreak say the study was cited by Attorney-General Bob McClelland in February, the Australian Industry Content Group is already represented in Canberra by a lobbyist. The dully-named Salmon Odgers Family Trust, according to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet’s lobbyist register, represents the AICG along with the Housing Industry Association, ambulance-chasing solicitors Slater & Gordon, Standards Australia and a few other organisations.

Could it be that with the gloss wearing off the public face of AFACT (the Australian Federation of Copyright Theft), the content industries are prepping their next stalking-horse? ®

Update: The Sphere Analysis report has now been published. It's available from the Business Software Alliance, here. Thanks to Crikey for the link. It may not be worth your effort, however, unless you like reading mash-ups of old, and sometimes deeply criticized, piracy reports.

If I had to nominate a favourite item, it would have to be the prediction that the National Broadband Network (NBN) will lead to eight million Australians becoming pirates by 2016. ®

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