David Price, the chief researcher on the study, said his analysts came to that conclusion by reviewing the top 12,500 files out of 3.5 million on a public BitTorrent network — it enables people to swap large files — to determine how much of it was legal. After omitting pornographic files, the group determined that 99.97 of files shared using the popular peer-to-peer protocol were illegal.
Not everyone is swayed.
Matthew Schruers, a copyright law expert with the Computer Communications and Industry Association, which opposed last year's industry-backed piracy bill, said the 12,500-sample size used in the NBCUniversal study would be too small to determine an accurate percentage of infringing content. He also questioned MPAA's definition of what it means to be "influenced" by a search engine.
"Nobody is saying infringement isn't a problem," Schruers said. "The question is what to do about it. ... Bad numbers lead to bad policy."
Rep. Adam Schiff, co-chair of an anti-piracy caucus, said he remains sympathetic to the plight of industries reliant on copyright. But he is hoping that the two sides can work out their disagreements on their own.
"I'm a big fan of voluntary agreements," said Schiff, D-Calif. "I've seen what happens with legislation."
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An occasional look at how behind-the-scenes influence is exercised in Washington.
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