Hollywood's admission last week that its campus piracy stats were bogus
raises an interesting question: why have colleges been so quick to roll over and accede to Hollywood's demands? Greg Sandoval points out that universities could have done their own studies a long time ago
and had hard numbers to dispute the industry's accusations. If, as now appears to be the case, colleges are only responsible for a fairly small fraction of illegal file sharing, it makes the industry's demands that academia bend over backwards to help Hollywood in its anti-piracy fight a little unreasonable. The really screwy thing about this is that the movie industry is a relatively small part of the American economy. The industry's revenues in 2006 were just $42 billion.
For comparison, Harvard alone has an endowment of $35 billion,
and altogether the higher education sector has assets in the hundreds of billions of dollars. If they chose to stand up to Hollywood's bullying techniques, they would have little trouble mounting an effective legal defense. And given that Hollywood seems determined to paint students—academia's customers—in the worst possible light, it seems only appropriate that colleges be more proactive about countering unfair negative stereotypes of college campuses.