Does The MPAA Simply Make Up Piracy Numbers Out Of Thin Air?

from the doing-the-math dept

Remember in the last few months how the movie industry was hyping up the idea that Canada was the center for camcording movies? This was bogus for many reasons — with the biggest being that movies recorded in theaters on camcorders are a tiny, tiny part of the counterfeit market. It’s much more common to actually get a movie leaked from an insider and then have the real copy spread around. However, the MPAA kept claiming (without any evidence) that Canada was a hotbed of this activity — accounting for approximately 50% of camcorded movies. However, now the same movie industry is claiming that New York City is responsible for 40% of camcorded movies. That would mean that only 10% of camcorded movies come from outside New York City or Canada — a number that hardly seems realistic especially given an entirely different report from the movie industry that highlighted how camcorded movies were happening in many states across the US. It seems like the movie industry just makes up numbers. The reason they’re doing so, of course, is to push for stronger legislation in their favor. So far, Canada has resisted, noting that it already has very strict laws when it comes to taping movies. However, the folks in NY weren’t able to resist, and have now passed a new law upgrading the penalties for people caught taping movies. Instead of a $250 fine, you can now face a $5,000 fine and up to 6 months in jail. It’s unclear how this is a victory for the movie industry. Insiders will still leak copies (that are much better in quality than camcorded ones) and they’ll still be available on the internet. Instead of focusing on pointless legal solutions, the industry would have been better off making the movie-going experience better so that people actually want to go out to the movies. In the meantime, though, why doesn’t anyone ask the movie industry to actually back up the numbers they put forth?


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Comments on “Does The MPAA Simply Make Up Piracy Numbers Out Of Thin Air?”

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61 Comments
PissedOff says:

MPAA

MPAA = Motion Picture ASSociation of Assholes.

Gee MPAA.. Maybe if it didn’t cost a family a small fortune to go see a movie in your crappy theatres with sticky floors and underpaid, rude teenage employees….we’d actually go see ’em. Oh, and…maybe if 95% of “Hollywood” movies didn’t SUCK ASS…we’d go, too. Don’t blame your decreased profits on piracy. That is BS. Try producing some decent movies…and not 4 friggen Superman movies or 25 remakes of some old 50’s movie… enough! Oh…and why does an actor get paid 1000 times more than the world’s best surgeon??? It’s just NOT right.

Stop treating us like criminals….damn hypocrites.

Larry says:

Just ask Kramer

One of the MPAA lawyers must have been watching a Seinfeld re-run when they thought up THAT line of reasoning.

How would you KNOW that a “camcorded” movie came out of Canada anyway? Do they subtitle the “Eh’s” and “hoser” onto the film??

Disclaimer to all Canadian readers/posters: I do NOT dislike you or your country. But I DO enjoy saying “hoser” and “Eh”. Maybe I should move up there, eh?

sam says:

mike…

gotta love ya!!

you are consistent… in the latter part of your article, you state that the industry should just make the movie experience better so people would want to go to the movies, and not steal the content…

so…. if someone is stealing cars… the auto industry should just make the experience better, so people would want to buy the cars!!!

umm.. if enough people got up and said, the only way they’d go to the movies, would be if the studios paid them, and if they weren’t paid, then they would keep buying the copied movies, i guess you’d state the movies/studios should capitulate to their requests!!

peace..

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Sam,

It’s nice that you keep coming by to argue, but it would help if you actually responded to what I’ve said rather than what you think I’ve said. It might make for a more fulfilling discussion.

in the latter part of your article, you state that the industry should just make the movie experience better so people would want to go to the movies, and not steal the content…

No, that’s not what I said. I didn’t say anything about stealing. I just said that the movie industry has *always* been selling the experience, even if they don’t realize it. And the way to keep selling the experience is to make it better than alternatives. Then, once they realize they’re selling the experience, they don’t care any more if people download the movie, because that’s got nothing to do with whether or not they want to go out and have a good social experience out.

so…. if someone is stealing cars… the auto industry should just make the experience better, so people would want to buy the cars!!!

Have you actually read anything I’ve written? Do you understand the difference between scarce and non-scarce goods? Seriously. Go back and reread what I’ve written. What you said makes no sense and has nothing to do with what I said. My position is that by encouraging people to view your content and then tying it to something you can sell you can do much better. So the movie industry would be better off letting the content go free, but making the experience of watching movies much better — that way even if people download the content they still want to pay for the experience of seeing it in the theater. If you don’t believe that happens, just look at what happened with the last Star Wars film.

Stealing cars is totally different. That’s a scarce item.

umm.. if enough people got up and said, the only way they’d go to the movies, would be if the studios paid them, and if they weren’t paid, then they would keep buying the copied movies, i guess you’d state the movies/studios should capitulate to their requests!!

Again, do you even read what I write? The point is that you can make a much better business model giving people what they want. So if the economics supported paying people to go to the movies, then someone would start offering that and then others would be in trouble. However, I don’t see the economics supporting that. The economics, however, do support free content.

Sam, I like the fact that you come here and state your opinion, but it would help if you actually tried to understand what we were saying before responding.

froggy57 says:

Re: Re: Re:

hmmmm.. nice spin, Mike. But he did a point which you carefully avoided by spinning sideways around it like an ice skater avoiding a barrel.
I like your idea of making the experience better. But the experience has been that way since I started going to movies in the early forties and is still the same today. So it isn’t likely to change in the near future.
As far as buying pirated movies, I have bought one, and it wasn’t very well produced. grainy, bad sound, etc. I wouldn’t buy another one. I don’t see them around either. I’m in the Sea Tac area, so maybe they don’t have many of them here. Sounds to me like the movie industry is just paranoid. Maybe their falling sales have nothing to do with people making copies. Maybe it has to do with their lousy movies.

bonehead says:

Re: try reading the article again...

…and maybe you’ll realize that the author said that people don’t go to the movies. Somehow, it does not mean -at least logically- that they download them instead. Just try to think it through. Real hard. You know “not going to movies” does NOT equal to “stinky downloading bastard”.

(I prefer DVDs -I can get them the same price as 2 movie tickets. And if you wait 1-2 years you can see all that cr@p on movie channels and TNT anyway.)

pvillese says:

offering a better experience

I agree in general that the movie industry along with the theaters need to offer a more appealing service since getting people to theaters is really the money making part of the movie industry while dvd sales is really just extra income. I went and saw Night at the Museum at the IMAX near by, and let me tell you that was well worth paying for the experience of watching it in an IMAX theater.

Some other theaters realize they are serving a social service by adding other family activities to their theater like one I’ve been to has a whole game area with tickets you earn for prizes for the younger customers and a club like area in another part of the building for older customers.

eMike says:

some quick math...

Canada has a population of roughly 33 million (https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/print/ca.html).
New York State has a population of just under 20 million (http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/36000.html).
World population is ~6.5 billion. (http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/world.html)

So that means that 0.008% of the world’s people are responsible for 90% of movie recording?

Sounds plausible to me.

Cixelsid says:

Re: Re: Re: some quick math...

Shit, thats what Oprah pays her catsitter or something. She probably wipes her ass with that much money every day.
7 mil is probably less than what tom cruise donates a day to that scam business called scientology or the cost of the plastic surgery Joan Rivers has had in the last 10 years. Its fuckall to be clear.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: some quick math...

not really for the fact the actor gets paide more then that to make the fill. thats a drop in the hat to them. compared to how much they spend on other things. I i think there problem is that the movie industry has not created much worth watching anymore.

think about it how many horror movies can one watch before they get bored and love movies with the same plots and actors that have to get there emotions edited into the fill since they cant act. comedy fills seem to sort of keep fresh and im more of action type of person which they dont make much of anymore (well at least god action).

TheDock22 says:

Theatres

I hate going to movie theaters because I used to work at one. The popcorn is stale, the seats are uncomfortable, and their are people always sneezing or talking. And at LEAST one cell phone goes off. It’d rather stay home.

Now if the MPAA offered an @Home movie service…say through cable or satellite…that offered the brand new movie theater shows the day they came out, I would pay money for that. Put a price tag on it, I would pay $20.00, maybe more, to see the show I want to see, since I would spend twice that at a theater.

IronChef says:

Ramblings of The Movie Industry

Let’s face it, Hollywood is facing the same challenges that many natural monopolies are facing primarily because of technology. Today’s HDTVs, the advent of BluRay, HD-DVD HD Satellite and Cable are truly causing the businessmodel to change. The new tech that has appeared on the scene in the past three-to-five years has made it easier for the consumer to retrieve the content they want, in the way they want.

I believe that it starts at the core product and works its way from there– Consider that Lucas and Rodreguez aren’t even using film- they prefer the digital Sony HDW-F900 over ol’ 35mm. The cost of film made the business cost prohibitive, putting into place unionization, and the entire legal system that exists today. An old college buddy told me that Rodreguez editd his last few movies at his house. I believe that neither Lucas or Rodreguez are members of SAG too…

But the costs of tech are invarably going to come down. This means that it will be within reach to many business segments and hobbyists alike.

Instead of prosecuting, and levvying higher fines, the content providers should focus on the underlying theme of the day- people want content and if a reliable delivery system was in place, consumers will be willing to pay a premium for it, **especially** if it worked device independent.

I think that AppleTV is a huge leap in the right direction, and the suits in Hollywood should see this as a much larger threat than some kids camm-ing a 480i copy from a movie screen… Apple’s distribution system is the system of the future, and they should take notice. It’s open, scalable, and works on the “technology investment” which people have in their homes- (read: HDTV, DTS, DD, DTS Neo, et al.)

On another note, for the movie theater chains to survive, The suggestion I have is to start seeing yourself as a service industry, and add value to the value chain, something tangible that may relate to the production that can’t be replicated over an internet connection. Try this instead of trying to extract every penny out of your consumer per transaction, with the aim for repeat business somehow. Provide a unique experience, and get your customers hooked at to the location.

When customers are willing to travel 15 miles to your competitor to see a movie that is more convenient, it should be a clear indication that the model doesn’t work, and customer loyalty is virtunally non existant.

Anyways, that’s just my opinion…

Christopher (user link) says:

Re: Ramblings of The Movie Industry

Regarding 21… Lucas only used the FDW-900 on Clones (albeit with Panavision lenses) because it records to compressed HD. He used the Panavision Genesis (full) HD camera for Episode 3. There’s an unboxing video (in HD, of course) on the Panavision Australia site, and even though it takes ages to download, it’s definitely worth a watch!

Good main article too, keep em coming 😀

IronChef says:

Re: Re: Ramblings of The Movie Industry

Regarding 21… Lucas only used the FDW-900 on Clones (albeit with Panavision lenses) because it records to compressed HD. He used the Panavision Genesis (full) HD camera for Episode 3. There’s an unboxing video (in HD, of course) on the Panavision Australia site, and even though it takes ages to download, it’s definitely worth a watch!

Hey Cristopher, Thx for the correction.

While I can’t explain everything, but try my best based on the artifacts. (Hey that’s pretty cool. Maybe that’ll be my sig from now on…)

Any input on Rodreguez’s last films?

A chicken passeth by says:

You guys ever heard the adage “Three men make a tiger” from China? Basically, it says that people tend to believe incidents that have multiple “witnesses”, even if the incident never happened.

We have here 5 organizations, made out of many men, claiming to have “seen a tiger”:
The RIAA
The MPAA
Congress
The BSA
The ESA

Hmmm….

moviedownloaderguy says:

stealing != Copyright infringement

in the latter part of your article, you state that the industry should just make the movie experience better so people would want to go to the movies, and not steal the content…

so…. if someone is stealing cars… the auto industry should just make the experience better, so people would want to buy the cars!!!

This is not theft, this is copyright infringement.

Theft deprives physical property
copyright infringement simply violates the ‘right’ to control ability to copy or clone content.

Theft = criminal act
Copyright infringement = Civil act

Ill even make an analogy for you:

Theft would equate a burgalar breaking into your house and taking several belongings, thus depriving you of physical property

Copyright infringment would equate, someone making an exact copy or clone of something you own, leaving you with the original.

chris (profile) says:

Re: Re: stealing != Copyright infringement

Most copyright infringement is more like someone admiring the flowers in your yard without paying your gardener again.

that’s awesome.

the future of media is internet distribution. you know it, i know it, they know it.

the film industry (along with the music industry) is poised to change.

it’s all going to change and they will eventually change with it. right now they are just trying to milk the current state of things for as much money as they can because the days of record opening day releases (ala spidey 3) are coming to an end.

Fred says:

criminal infringement

Why do people still insist on stating that copyright infringement is a civil act? After $1,000 of content (more than most of us have on our hard drives, if you count each song as worth a buck) it’s criminal. And it has been for what, more than ten years now?

It’s bad enough that the MPAA makes shit up. Why does moviedownloader guy have to do the same? Two wrongs still don’t make a right.

Close But No Cigar says:

Re: criminal infringement

After $1,000 of content (more than most of us have on our hard drives, if you count each song as worth a buck) it’s criminal. And it has been for what, more than ten years now?

Actually, the statute reads, more than $1,000 worth of content in any 180 day period.

as follows from:

§ 506. Criminal offenses5

(a) Criminal Infringement. – Any person who infringes a copyright willfully either –

(1) for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain, or

(2) by the reproduction or distribution, including by electronic means, during any 180-day period, of 1 or more copies or phonorecords of 1 or more copyrighted works, which have a total retail value of more than $1,000,

Live tv (user link) says:

Yes piracy is stealing, I’m not rationalizing it nor giving excuses because doing so is bullshit. The main reason I can say that piracy is prevalent and prevails is because the media companies long before piracy was a norm took it in their hands to circumvent copyright rules in their own favour and we witnessed the death of the public domain.

So the MPAA/RIAA caused their own demise by lobbying for stricter control over copyrights and for making it so that copyrights last an eternity, as opposed to the 30-40 years that they were intended to last for until hitting the public domain.

Kevin says:

It's working...

I live in a small town of about 7000 people in northern Canada. Last night I was at our small 2 screen theater to see Spiderman 3. Right off the bat I noticed the new sign on the window notifying everyone that their are no recording devices allowed in the theater. It was signed by a Sony Pictures employee. But once I got inside a man wearing a security uniform came in just before the movie started and yelled at the top of his lungs that any recording devices would be confiscated. I’ve seen plenty of movies at this theater and they have never to my knowledge employed security personnel and nobody has ever stood in front of the audience to tell their own customers off. Hell this theater usually has one staff member at the box office and 2 serving up drinks. Thats it!

So if your wondering why they make stuff up. It’s because it’s working…

Marrow says:

movies and theaters

I had a chance to watch spiderman 3 at home 9 a quality TS rip) but i chose to see it the theater last night instead. i was inundated with arrogant and stupid teenagers, a few fights broke out as well. I hate how stupid teens are. I would have rather watched it in the safety of my living room. Who wants to pay for violence (in a theater that has NO Security whatsoever, ie: someone could bring guns/knives) and get maimed or worse over how tall or loud you are????

History repeated says:

The movie and recording industry has always loaded their pants when confronted with new technology. Nothings new; they suffered the same paranoia when VCR’s came out and fought that technology as well. Until the they realized that they made more money selling the VCR tapes than showing the movies at theaters. So my only advise to them is change pants and get on board with the new realities instead of making up lies to preserve their current failing model..

anti-copyright says:

copy-right laws should be eliminated

Copy-right law, not to mention trademark and patent law, is ridiculous, especially in the wake of new technologies like the internet. The idea that information can be owned is absurd. Anything that can be represented as information should be free to be shared.

The absurdity of the actions taken against the citizens of the United States, or any other country for that matter, by these huge corporations known as the RIAA and MPAA etc can be seen in their estimates of profit “loss”. How exactly can one lose profits that they have not made? Aside from the many arguments like this that can be made, these civil suits represent what is traditionally known to many as fascism. Where fascism here is defined as the corporate control of government.

God says:

Piracy is stealing

Piracy is stealing. Downloading isnt.

I define piracy a little differently then most people. The pirates are the ones who copy other peoples works and resell it. Those are the pirates, and they are stealing revenue.

There is a lot of piracy that goes on where companies replicate current DVD’s, repackage them and distribute them to small mom and pop shops as the real movies. Many of these stores don’t even know they are buying pirated materials.

The real pirates who profit off of stealing other peoples work, are the ones who should be charged as criminals.

Ron Larson (profile) says:

Conficaste recording devices

a man wearing a security uniform came in just before the movie started and yelled at the top of his lungs that any recording devices would be confiscated

So did he take every single mobile phone that could take a picture, a video, or an audio recording? Those are all recording devices.

And what right does he have to take private property from someone? Man… I’d go in with a camcorder, turned off of course, and see exactly how they plan to confiscate my private property without due process of law.

A chicken passeth by says:

RE: Alphabet Soup

“I realize MPAA represents the movies, RIAA the recording industry, CONGRESS the lobbyists who offer the most socially acceptable form of bribery, but who do those other acronyms represent?”

BSA = Business Software Alliance
ESA = Entertainment Software Alliance

They are the computer industry’s equivalents of the RIAA and MPAA. All things considered, although they do blurt out questionable numbers and do questionable things, they aren’t as “activist” as the guys governing the movie and music industries.

WWIN (profile) says:

Those are lofty goals

Pretty sure those numbers are estimates at best and most certainly WAY off. Seriously how can you account for every node on the internet and couple that with street vendors? I like the comment in #32 Piracy is not stealing, Piracy is Copyright Infringement. If one is charged with theft, that would be easy to fight in court.

Then, what do you do with sites like this where
you can free streaming television shows including those from cable? The provider I use here has the right to stream them. They also have a download link and provide you a link to their videos.

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