BitTorrent researchers stand by sponsored study

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BitTorrent researchers stand by sponsored study

Call for others to replicate.

One of the authors of a contentious study of BitTorrent trackers effectively dismissed a critique of the work by a major torrent blog overnight, challenging the critics to produce some "comparable research".

The Internet Commerce Security Laboratory (ICSL) study, partly paid for by Village Roadshow, found "at least 89.9 percent" of a sample of 1,000 popular torrents infringed copyright.

The study was lampooned by file-sharing blog Torrent Freak who claimed it was riddled with mistakes and that its conclusions were based on "painfully inaccurate data".

ICSL head Paul Watters forwarded what appeared to be part of written correspondence sent directly to the Torrent Freak site.

It thanked Torrent Freak "for your enquiry" and conceded the site "raised some interesting points that are fundamental to the validity of any study in this area: the sampling strategy; verification of results and so on."

"As researchers, we not only stand by the findings that we have arrived at, but - having made our methodology public - we are providing other bona fide researchers to replicate and/or dispute our findings," Watters said.

"Their results can in turn be assessed through the peer review process; this is the process that normal research activity takes.

"We believe that our methodology was rigorously applied to the sample that we obtained. Over time, we will replicate the sampling process, so that we will gain better estimates of the population results.

"This is the fundamental tenet of statistical sampling; I would be happy to send you a complimentary of my O'Reilly "Statistics [in] a Nutshell" book that might give further insight into statistical methodology.

"We look forward to reading the results of any comparable research that you produce!"

Watters didn't appear to have responded directly to Torrent Freak's criticisms of the methodology itself.

The study was released just over a week before the film studio that commissioned it heads back to the Federal Court to appeal an unfavourable decision in its long-running case against ISP iiNet.

The film industry wants to make iiNet and other ISPs responsible for the copyright infringing actions of internet users on their networks.


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