BBC Presents MPAA Propaganda On Movie Piracy, Claims It's 'Fully Balanced'

from the on-one-side-of-the-scale... dept

You may recall back in 2007, that the BBC put on a program all about the “dangers” of WiFi that was entirely one-sided and had shoddy reporting, bad science and (best of all) conflicts of interest, as one of the main participants sells products to protect people from so-called radiation. The program was widely criticized, and many months later, the BBC finally admitted it made some mistakes with the program — but the only one it would admit was that it was unfair in how it presented the one dissenter who pointed out that there’s little to no evidence that WiFi causes any harm.

It looks like the BBC has done the same thing yet again. TorrentFreak notes that it just did a segment on all of the harm done by “piracy” to the movie industry, including quoting the already discredited report, paid for by the movie studios, claiming that movie piracy funds terrorism. Beyond that, the BBC program speaks to four different people — all of whom agree that movie piracy is a hugely dangerous problem that could (they claim) end the movie industry in the UK. Do they present any evidence? Other than the discredited Rand study, not a bit.

So when someone complained to the BBC about the piece, you would think that maybe they’d realize that the piece had been a bit one-sided, but instead, they responded:

This report focused in on a legitimate problem for both the film industry and the authorities as they try to tackle what is an ever increasing and profitable criminal activity. We feel the report outlined the laws surrounding the issue of film piracy adequately and that the interviewees from the film industry were entirely appropriate people to comment on the problem.

Impartiality is the cornerstone of all our output, and we feel this report was fully balanced in it’s coverage of copyright theft.

You see, apparently there is no other side to the story, and you can take the word of the industry insiders, because they’re the only ones who can or should comment on the issue.

Amusingly, TorrentFreak also points out that the previous segment on that same broadcast, was about pirate radio, where the participants are described as “lovable.” Yet, suddenly, when it switches to movies, they become “no laughing matter.” Why? Did it ever occur to the folks at the BBC that perhaps the issues are actually the same — and the people involved in both types of “piracy” are effectively doing the same thing? Apparently not.

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Comments on “BBC Presents MPAA Propaganda On Movie Piracy, Claims It's 'Fully Balanced'”

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Anonymous Coward says:

…including quoting the already discredited report, paid for by the movie studios, claiming that movie piracy funds terrorism

The “discredited” report by the RAND Corporation can be found at:

My question is “Who or what organizations have discredited the information contained in the RAND report?”

BTW, the report does not address file sharing per se, contra to your linked article presented early last month. To state otherwise is inaccurate and misleading.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

My question is “Who or what organizations have discredited the information contained in the RAND report?”

Did you ever think about maybe, just maybe, clicking on the links in the article for a start? No, of course not. You just want to pretend that it doesn’t exist. Well, carry on then. I mean, we wouldn’t want to cause you any kind of cognitive dissonance, now would we?

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re:

My question is “Who or what organizations have discredited the information contained in the RAND report?”

It was discussed widely online at the time it came out.

BTW, the report does not address file sharing per se, contra to your linked article presented early last month. To state otherwise is inaccurate and misleading.

Did we claim otherwise above? Nope. We said “piracy.” But, why bother being accurate when you want to make us look bad?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I’m a bit curious now, too.

In this article, you said the RAND report was discreditted; but from skimming through it, most of it talks about how crime syndicates make money off counterfeit goods. Even if that’s not equivalent to file-sharing, it’s generally a fact. So was only a part of the RAND study discreditted?

The original AC was wrong, I think, to say that your previous article presented the RAND study as “addressing file sharing per se,” since when you talk about the report you note that it’s about “piracy” — but the first line of that aryicle was “I’ve recently come across two separate studies concerning file sharing”.

And I can understand that the original AC was a bit put off because when they pointed back to your old article, which you liked to, you glibly responded, “Indeed. But we’re talking about this article, aren’t we?”

So, I’ll ask the AC’s question again: the RAND report isn’t about file sharing funding terrorists, it’s about crime syndicates raising money on the sale of counterfeit items. That being the case, what do you mean when you say the the report has been discredited, as it’s not clear that the claim “criminals profit from counterfeit goods” is false.

Erik Jan (profile) says:

Impartiality ....

When watching or reading stories like this it might be sensible to keep in mind that journalists (and broadcasters, particularly broadcasters operating a very profitable commercial operation like the BBC) are directly involved in these issues. Just like newspapers are. It must be hard to be impartial if your documentary, your news item or your TV series is widely distributed through P2P networks. maybe it is a natural point of view then to call it “piracy” and show the “dangers” of it. Impartiality is hard when you think your livelihood is in danger.
the issue of the RAND rapport, I think is quit simple. It is about counterfeiting (not piracy per se) but it is paid for by the MPA, which makes it propaganda. And the argument about piracy supporting organized crime and terrorism is rather weird. The moment you make something for which there is a big market (and therefore big profits to be made) illegal, criminal gangs will step in. But the problem with this is that we don’t ask the question anymore why these activities were made illegal in the first place. From a social (societal) point of view we should ask the question why we want to spent the money on enforcement of TMR (Temporary Monopoly Rights) and run a considerable risk of growing organized crime activity just so some small, economically rather unimportant watch makers can go on making ugly, over expensive watches. There is actually a natural experiment going on right now that can show what happens if you enforce TMR were you did not before. The fashion industry is a well known example of an industry where copying is the normal way of doing business. Logically there is no piracy in the fashion industry. But what will happen when the corporations start enforcing TMR? Piracy will ensue, just because there is a market for cheaper versions of high-end clothing. And that market will not go away because of enforcement. So piracy will begin. And the complaints. And stories like this RAND report about organized crime and terrorism etc. An old story, really.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

If “substantive” is what you want, since the “debunked” Rand report is mentioned here in a disparaging manner, and since the report figures prominently in the TorrentFreak article on which this article is based, any discussion of a substantive nature should in part delve into Mr. Masnick’s choice of words and links.

Pensive Potter says:

Re: Re:

Wow, there are too many ACs! Impossible to tell who’s who.

Mike, you’re being needlessly defensive and argumentative. The latest BBC report sure sounds like it makes overblown claims about the supposed harm done to the movie industry by online “piracy” (I’ll even humor you with the scare quotes — I don’t particularly like the term “piracy” either, but I prefer it to the less apt “theft,” and “piracy” has been used to describe copyright infringement for a long, long time).

OK, so the BBC makes these overblown claims. What does this have to do with the RAND study? You were the one who brought up the RAND study in the post above, and characterized it as “discredited.” As other ACs have asked, how has the RAND report been discredited? Or perhaps more to the point, how have the actual findings the RAND report claims to have reached been discredited? Honestly, I (and presumably many others) would like to know, and you seem to have the inclination and resources to do a thorough refutation, to the extent one is possible. Torrentfreak is great for flagging P2P-related news items, but often, as in this case, somewhat lacking in eloquent analysis.

I wholeheartedly agree that the RAND report is being cited as support for claims it doesn’t make, mainly by those who conflate digital firelsharing or “piracy” with sales of counterfeit physical goods, be they DVDs, drugs, or designer goods. (I have heard a number of people cite it in the context of arguing for stronger crackdowns on P2P filesharing.) And as I’m sure you would be the first to point out, just as P2P filesharing disrupts the traditional business model of the major studios, it also helps to overthrow the business model of those whose bread and butter retail business is selling pirated DVDs on the street corner. Perhaps I haven’t reead the RAND study with the keen eye you have, but I thought it glossed over the issue of P2P, filesharing, and digital “piracy,” neither condemning it nor noting that profit-driven criminal counterfeiting and digital “piracy” were often at cross purposes.

You’ve suggested that the funding source for the RAND report renders its conclusions suspect, and I agree that is good reason to read the report with a critical eye. However, I think all your readers would greatly benefit from a more thorough analysis of the RAND report, rather than outright dismissal of its actual conclusions.

mark c says:

My favorite argument is when they say that it is the janitor or the labour workers that really are hurt by all of the piracy. You know, they could always pay the lead actor 39 million instead of 40 million and could easily afford to pay the rest of the entire staff double their usual wages and still have money left over.

Chunks McGee says:

After reading the article, the report and the comments, I have come to the conclusion that there should be no charge for any media after first show.

mark c’s last comment is pretty sensible as far as it goes. However, it leave out the very real point that, except for those who own a share of the profit points, every one else who works on a movie is paid a flat rate. That janitor made the same amount of money whether the movie he swept floors for made $100M U.S. or $10. Same for editors, script girls, the craft service people, the wardrobe people or any of those hundreds of names you see scrolling.

Usually only the director, the producer(s) and the stars’ names above the title make money afterward–and that is generally from franchising (aka toys, t-shirts, fast food promos and the like).

As in the recording industry, the bulk of the money from the actual product never reaches the creators in too many cases.

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