NBC Universal's Own Preferred Researcher For 'Anti-Piracy' Stats Comes Out Against SOPA/PIPA

from the well,-look-at-that dept

This is fascinating and unexpected. We’ve discussed the research firm Envisional a few times here at Techdirt. The company is NBC Universal’s preferred research firm for coming up with stats that NBC Universal then uses to insist that it needs new laws like SOPA/PIPA. Some have certainly called into question Envisional’s research as a paid vendor. However, a year ago, we noted that if you actually looked at the details of the research Envisional did for NBC Universal, it actually showed that piracy was Hollywood’s own fault. NBC Universal and the MPAA twisted those results to say that piracy was a huge problem, but the data certainly suggested the real problem was Hollywood’s failure to release what people wanted in formats that they wanted.

Still, we never expected Envisional to come out and actually make that same point (even if that’s what the data said). Yet, as this recent Ars Technica article notes, at CES, Envisional’s “head of piracy intelligence,” David Price, didn’t mince words in saying that infringement was, in fact, Hollywood’s own fault for not offering products in the way customers wanted and that SOPA/PIPA were the wrong approach to fixing its business model problems:

“The content owners are really fighting the tide of the Internet,” Price said. “They’re trying to fight the flow of the Internet which is all about making content as widely available as possible, as easily as possible, as quickly as possible. They’re trying to hold back the 1.4 billon users of the Internet from doing what the Internet wants them to do.”

In discussing SOPA/PIPA:

Price does not like the way the bills are drafted, potentially causing major technical and free speech issues. “When I talk to content owners I try to tell them this is not the way to go,” he remarked. “You don’t want to hurt people. You want to try and go with a compete approach, put the content out there and hope people will come to you.”

Again, none of this is surprising. We’ve been saying the same thing for ages — and we get dismissed as “piracy apologists.” Yet this is the research firm that NBC Universal has relied on and regularly quotes in making its arguments about just how “big” a problem infringement is. That says something. And that something is that NBC Universal (yet again) is unwilling to face reality.

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Companies: envisional, nbc universal

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Comments on “NBC Universal's Own Preferred Researcher For 'Anti-Piracy' Stats Comes Out Against SOPA/PIPA”

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DogBreath says:

Re: Re:

We need more laws.

Well if we are going to pass more laws, we’re going to need to print them in books, and as we all know books do not grow on trees… wait… books can be made from wood pulp from trees… and books can be used to infringe on copyright… maybe that is the answer!

Take down all the tree manufactures and we’ll all be safe from copyright infringement!?!

IP-IDEA: Intellectual Property – Infringement Enforced Deforestation Act – coming soon to a congress near you!

Average Out /of the/ Bob says:

Well obviously NBC own paid researchers are nothing but a bunch of pirate apologists. Think about it, if piracy went away they wouldn’t have anything to research. So their business model is dedicated to infringement and that is why they fear SOPA. Nice of you to try to put a BIG SEARCH spin on things you slimeball

Anonymous Coward says:

the data certainly suggested the real problem was Hollywood’s failure to release what people wanted in formats that they wanted.

Spoken like a true pirate apologist, Pirate Mike. The “real” problem is that people consciously decide that it’s OK to violate other people’s rights. Funny how you pretend like you think “piracy is not OK,” yet you never fault the pirates for being deliberate wrongdoers. What a joke you are.

Edward Teach says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Arrr! Ye freshwater swab!

The term “Troll Hunter” is likely trademarked, and maybe copyrighted (?): http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1740707/

Shiver me sides, looks like the morally, creatively and philosphically bankrupt sea gherkins at the US Movie Cartel are re-making a Norwegian horror film of the same name: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1961627/

That ectoplasm of a remake will probably wash dirty socks in limbo, just as weakling remakes of “The Vanishing” and other decent euro-movies have done in the past, in the hands of Hollywood pithecanthropus directors! Arrr! Simony! Creeping Dualism! Apostasy! Cathars!

:Lobo Santo (profile) says:

Re: Graderient

Conviction, formatted text, near direct reference to the topic at hand. Very good!

right (plural rights)
1. That which complies with justice, law or reason.
We’re on the side of right in this contest.
2. A legal or moral entitlement.
You have no right to go through my book.

By all definitions, they don’t actually have rights–as what they want only fits half the definition at any given point.
(eg legal, yes. Moral & reasonable, no).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

How is that spoken like a pirate apologist? The problem as evidenced by the data is Hollywood and they’re failure to give the people what they want. As, again, shown by the data from their own financed study.

That is the problem. The content is not being offered how the people want. Timely fashion, DRM free, reasonably priced, multiple formats, etc.

Mike has faulted the wrongdoers, but he’s also pointed out how the “deliberate wrongdoers” are apparently able to do what the studios can’t. Give the people what they want. That shows that the fault lies with the studios. There’s a demand, they aren’t meeting it.

Nice try though. Troll.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I agree that it’s an unfortunate choice of words though it does essentially sum it up as does “information wants to be free”.

The Internet, mostly the Web, makes it relatively easy to find things now so in the sense that it’s findable people do what the Internet enables them to do, or, “wants them to do”. It’s splitting hairs, I know, but in this sense the hair needs splitting.

His idea that if mainstream MPAA/RIAA members themselves adapted to the Internet reality that piracy would dimish is, at least, partly borne out in his study that shows where Netflix exists the bigger avenues (the bittorrent protocol) sees usage decrease. Even if what Netflix does is similar to how Bittorrent operates.

In both cases “information” or “data” is exchanged freely by groups even if in one case it’s sometimes “piracy” in the other sense “legitimately paid for” information.

Both inexorably push towards free. Not free as in unpaid for but freedom in exchange AT A REASONABLE PRICE which may not be the price the copyright owners want to charge for it.

Perhaps a bazaar where buyer and seller dicker and agree, in the end on a price. In one sense that happens now when a seller puts a price on a product and it doesn’t move, no matter its advantages, then reduces the price and suddenly it sells. The seller makes up in volume what they’ve lost in per unit profit.

In that sense, the price, that bit of information is free and, because of the Web and the ease in finding out, it spreads rapidly among those interested in the product.

The point Price is making is that content owners haven’t adapted quickly enough to reduce the attraction of piracy. To that he adds that bills like SOPA and PIPA won’t answer the problem. Piracy will go on. (And it will) Unless the content industry adapts. That is something they show no sign of wanting to do. Sad, really cause they could do it tomorrow and makes tons on money doing it.

And is Price still working for NBC/Universal? I don’t know. I’m not sure he does. I’m not sure he cares all that much because they haven’t paid attention to what his research has found, except for the parts they wanted it to find, not the solutions to it.

Violated (profile) says:


It is well known that lobby firms hire researchers to produce reports on piracy and other matters. These researchers have a reason to be biased when if their report reads “piracy is not a problem” then the lobby firm just stick that report in their “poison cupboard” so that no one can ever read it. Then they don’t use that researcher again.

This why I said above Envisional have just earned an eternal place in NBC Universal’s own “poison cupboard”

At least Envisional have a good chance of knocking out some honest statistics now but it is hard to say who would pay them for honest reports? I could name a few like Google but this is still biased lobbying.

Lisa M (user link) says:


I agree that piracy needs to be stopped but NBC and Universal need to refine their methods of targeting pirates. They need to recognize true piracy of their works instead of whole sale targeting of files based on a single word.

I am a digital designer (MamaLlamaLisaDesigns) who used snowflakes to create a corner page frosted overlay for digital scrapbook pages. My use of the word ?frosty overlay? tripped NBC/Universal?s web crawling program and shut down my file. Nothing in my file(s) is remotely infringing ? I created the snowflakes and clustered them in a corner using right angles to follow a scrapbook page. It mimics a frosty window corner such as you find on old windows in the winter. The word frosty is not copyrighted nor was it used as a noun ? it was an adjective describing the overlay itself. The image bears no resemblance to any character or copyrighted image. I find it very disturbing that large corporations have the power to shut down others with out looking at the files. They cry “foul, infringement” without actually looking at the files to see if there truly is infringement.

Of course NBC and Universal have increased their “crackdown” and sent out more “notices” – they are trying to create a case of “piracy is on the rise” but in reality they are creating hype which will hurt them in the end if they continue to target innocent people.

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