No Surprise: MPAA Wouldn't Reveal Data On How It Came Up With Bogus 'Piracy' Numbers
from the of-course-not dept
Starting last year, I started receiving reports from folks at the GAO that they were getting massive resistance from the entertainment industry when it came to their attempt to look more deeply into the actual economic impact of unauthorized file sharing. Some even told me that industry pressure had resulted in the GAO never releasing a particular report. However, last week, as everyone knows, the GAO came out with its extremely damning report, showing that industry figures on the impact of unauthorized file trading were totally bunk. The numbers — which were regularly used by politicians in pushing for entertainment industry-supported legislation — had little basis in fact, greatly overstated the issue and totally ignored the benefits of file sharing.
As people dig deeper into the report, more and more details are coming out — including the fact that the MPAA wouldn’t provide the data on how it came up with some of its more questionable “piracy” claims. Of particular concern was a report from 2005, which the MPAA used to push for regulations requiring universities to set up filters. The MPAA used its own research to claim that 44% of unauthorized file sharing came from universities — and the MPAA’s main lawyer made the statement that the primary purpose of internet access on campus was for students to share unauthorized materials. Congress never bothered to question these stats — though, after all the debate, the MPAA finally admitted that it had made a math error that showed the “real” number (according to itself) was 15%, rather than 44%.
The GAO was apparently interested in digging into this report to understand where these numbers came from, but the MPAA decided it would rather not share:
The GAO never got all of the information it requested from the Motion Picture Association of America, according to GAO administrators, including Loren Yager, the author of the summary report that ensued and director of the GAO’s International Affairs and Trade efforts. The agency said as much in the report: “It is difficult based on the information provided in the study to determine how the authors handled key assumptions.” Without the materials, government analysts couldn’t properly evaluate the MPAA’s 2005 survey…
At this point, I think it’s fair to ask why the gov’t should ever be allowed to rely on the stats put forth by the entertainment industry in passing legislation again.