MPAA Starts Backing Away, Slowly, From Bogus Piracy Stats (But New Bogus Stats Are On Their Way)

from the about-time dept

We’ve been among the many, many people who have highlighted the MPAA’s penchant for using totally bogus “piracy” numbers in arguing for why it needs ever stronger copyright laws and enforcement. Others have stepped in with thorough debunkings as well, including its favorite “$58 billion” in losses that was bandied about regularly during the SOPA fight. The Government Accountability Office famously mocked the MPAA’s piracy claims as totally unsubstantiated, in part because the MPAA wouldn’t even explain the basis for the numbers it used.

It appears that so many people now realize that the MPAA’s claims on “losses” from piracy are so ridiculous that even the MPAA has decided not to use those numbers any more. Buried in a longer Wall Street Journal piece by Carl Bialik is this tidbit:

But the MPAA is focusing elsewhere, and no longer citing the earlier studies, after an internal review that followed the SOPA debate, MPAA spokesman Howard Gantman said. “At the current time we do not actively cite the figures directly relating to movie piracy, as the landscape has changed significantly since these studies were conducted both regarding the growth of broadband and the development of streaming technology, as well as the introduction of hundreds of new sites world-wide for viewing legal online content,” Gantman said.

That’s not to say that the MPAA has suddenly become reasonable. The rest of that article highlights other, highly questionable, attempts by the MPAA to justify its maximalist agenda, including new research, some of which seems to rely on similarly questionable methodology. But, at the very least, it appears that the “old” bogus numbers have been so discredited that even the MPAA won’t use them any more.

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Comments on “MPAA Starts Backing Away, Slowly, From Bogus Piracy Stats (But New Bogus Stats Are On Their Way)”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: One question

That would be seen as copyright infringement! You cannot make a list of the 100s of sites without having 10 pages of clauses about not being sued for possible future abuses of the list signed. If you weren’t an anonymous coward like me I would have taken your blasphemy as stupidity!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: One question

So they can’t give us the list of 100’s sites that they say are new and for viewing legal online content because that would be copyright. I can now see the 2 faced logic of the MAFFIA. They say there are new sites that are legal and yet won’t give us the list because it’s copyright well how can they expect us to visit these sites when they won’t give us the details. Obviously they don’t want us to visit these sites and its no wonder people are going to non legal sites when they won’t give us the details of the new sites available. Still I bet they go screaming to the government stating that no one is visiting these new sites and blaming piracy again but its there fault for not giving us the details of the new sites. /Sarcasm

Brad (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 One question

Well, to be fair (not that they deserve it), it might be possible that globally there are in excess of 100 legal streaming entities. I doubt there are multiple hundreds, and I don’t think they are all websites…

As usual, it likely depends on the details… If I look on my Roku box, they advertise 700 “channels”, and there are a number that have legal Hollywood movies to stream. Not that they are any good, but they are available (during a specific viewing window to be determined by the rights holder)…

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: One question

There are probably hundreds worldwide right now. However, most markets have a choice of only one or two, if that – and they’re probably just referring to localised services with very limited selections and not available outside of that particular region.

For example, in Spain there’s no Netflix, Lovefilm, Hulu, etc. but there are a couple of Spanish broadcasters that stream the content they show – mostly locally produced shows with few movies. There’s also an on demand service with cable providers, but these aren’t available in most places, or another service tied to certain ADSL contracts. Especially when looking at movies, the selection is very poor compared to the UK, and the UK’s selection is pathetic compared to the US. It could be claimed that Spain has 7 or 8 legal sources by the broadest criteria, but until a Netflix is allowed to service the market, it’s not a real alternative for large sections of the consumer base.

So, they’re technically correct that if you count up the number of sites available in the world, there’s hundreds. But, sites available worldwide, as in you can access them no matter where you happen to be at the time without having to resort to VPNs and other trickery? Virtually none.

Anonymous Coward says:


Speaking of bogus numbers, when are you going to have an honest discussion on the merits as to the value of the articles Swartz downloaded from JSTOR? You’ve claimed that the feds had to fudge things to get to that $5,000 threshold, yet he downloaded millions of articles that sell for about $20 to $40 each. Why can’t you have an honest discussion about that? I mean, clearly you’re all about looking at the actual numbers, right?

Anonymous Coward says:

they will continue to use the same numbers, the same stats but will rename where they came from and who arrived at the results. the really troubling thing is that congress will continue to use and take notice of whatever lies and bull shit the entertainment industries put out so as to be able to assist in any way possible and keep the coffers filled up with ‘campaign contributions’. all the totally independent and reliable, truthful studies will still be ignored, just as before. let’s face it, no politician received financial help from anywhere or anyone if they did and gave nothing in return

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Right, NOW they've EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE:

When are you going to have a follow-up on that study you quotes several times that said patent “trolls” cost us $29B per year? Did you think the methodology there was sound, or did you just ignore it and go for the FUD-filled headline? Hmmm….

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Right, NOW they've EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE:

Hahahahahahahaha!!! Man you are pitiful! He just nailed you in the arse (when he didn’t even have to bother since the articles are there and I was surprised to see him agreeing with the methodology even though it has several limitations) and you can’t just stop attacking and actually say anything productive. You are comically pitiful.

Joe Magly (profile) says:


I would question it as fact. It looks like the study was more based on correlation of digital sales without looking at the wider industry. In the same time frame that Megaupload was taken down the following also happened:

* Amazon adds 5000 videos to Amazon Instant Video and begins heavily promoting it on their site

* Hulu starts getting real traction by adding advertising allowing them to expand their catalog.

* A number of networks decided to follow some form of the route taken by South Park by hosting streams for their own shows/movies.

* Digital download editions of physical media began to be sold

* Walmart offers a digital transfer service that allows consumers to copy their DVDs to a digital format

I’m sure there is more.

So while shutting down megaupload may have had an affect on piracy the numbers are questionable due to the fact so many other big shifts to digital happened in the same few years and gained traction all around the same space of 12-24 months.

Anonymous Coward says:


The academics were keen to stress that the study wasn’t funded by the MPAA, and that the anonymous studios providing the sales data had no editorial control ? but it’s worth noting that IDEA itself was created last year with funds provided by the MPAA.?

You see that? THE MPAA created an organization a while back so it could say “ah but this study wasn’t funded by us”..but the whole study-group itself was paid for by the MPAA in the first place….there was just a delay between that and the studying being done.

Anonymous Coward says:

The landscape has changed in that when you say something absolutely ridiculous there are enough media outlets with large audiences that will call you out on it. The old model, where monopolists simply own the media and you can say what you want and get away with it, no longer works quite as well.

Still, this shows why government established media monopolies for private use should never be tolerated. Abolish government established broadcasting and cableco monopolies.

Anonymous Coward says:

Does the MPAA report these ‘loses’ on its tax returns?
If MPAA is going sue prirates for loses they should be at least able to prove where these loses occured – if these loses where proveable at all should they not be reported on there tax returns or in their accounting books? Much like lost revenue due to items in stores?

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