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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Losses due to piracy not so huge, after all...

MPAA admits college piracy numbers grossly inflated


After commissioning a 2005 study from LEK Consulting that showed collegiate file-swappers were responsible for 44 percent of movie studio "losses" to piracy, the MPAA then used the report it bought to bludgeon Congress into considering legislation to address this massive problem. Now the MPAA admits that the report's conclusions weren't even close to being right; collegiate piracy accounts for only 15 percent of "losses." Oops. And that's assuming you believe the rest of the data.

The Associated Press broke the news today; apparently, the MPAA is busy notifying government and education officials about the blunder, which may explain why it's too busy to post a mea culpa to its web site. The group blames "human error" for the calculation problem.

Of course, human error can and does happen to the best of us, and at least the MPAA finally owned up to a mistake that no one else would have noticed—even if it took over two years. Of course, the reason no one else would have noticed it is because the group kept the 2005 report and its methodology under wraps. But even the summaries that it published were enough for us to express some potent skepticism of the numbers back in 2006 and to argue that "the contours and effects of piracy are quite open to debate, and as a result, the best ways to address the problem are up for debate, too."

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