by Mike Masnick

Truth Seizes Headlines Back From The MPAA!

from the wait-a-second... dept

By now it should be no surprise that the MPAA likes to overhype lots of things, from the "losses" due to file sharing to the "risk" posed by the VCR ("the Boston Strangler" to the movie industry). The current bosses are no exception, from blaming technology to dire warnings about the end of content, it pays to take most of what they say with an extra big grain of salt. Hopefully, you had that salt handy as you read an announcement trumpeted by the MPAA about how they, along with a "California High Tech Task Force" shut down a Southern California DVD processing plant seizing $30 million worth of DVDs. The implication, though not stated in the article, was that the plant was used to copy DVDs illegally. Perhaps the reason it wasn't stated was because it might not actually be true. Constitutional Code points to the processing plant company's angry response to the news today, suggesting that almost nothing in the MPAA's announcement was accurate. First off, the company claims they only copy legal DVDs, and are a well established (over 15 years in business) legal DVD and CD reproduction plant. Second, neither the MPAA nor the so-called High Tech Task Force "shut the plant down." After the raid was completed the plant was allowed to return to full production levels immediately. The Task Force did take some DVDs, but the plant believes they were perfectly legitimate DVDs being produced by a well-known public company. Finally, in the MPAA's favorite area, it looks like they completely inflated by ridiculous amounts the "value" of the seized materials. The plant claims that the DVDs taken were worth a grand total of $10,540. The DVD copying equipment seized was worth about $15,000. In other words, the claim of $30 million worth of product seized was exaggerated by a mere 2,000%. So, not only does it sound like they're lying, but they're bad at math as well. And yet, for some reason, we still think it's okay that they get to go into schools and push their agenda as some kind of educational lesson? Of course, why should the MPAA care? They got the headlines they wanted out of the Associated Press, so it shouldn't really matter if the story isn't actually true. Update: I knew I should have checked the company's own math... As is being discussed in the comments, it seems like the processing plant has a bit of trouble with math as well. First they claim that 24*$3,600 = $15,000, which is obviously way off (it's $86,400). Then, they claim that inflated $35,000 to $30,000,000 is a change of 2,000%, but it's actually much higher (about 85,000%). If you go back to the $3,600 number, and assume the equipment is really worth $86,400 + $10,000 for the DVDs, they still inflated the amount seized by about 31,000%. Then, if you assume that the company isn't adding any "retail" markup to the DVDs, and assume that the retail value of the DVDs seized is more like $50 (seems unlikely), then you're still only talking about somewhere in the range of $200,000 in seized material, and the $30 million is still a bump of about 15,000%. Then again, since this seems to be bad math day, I probably got some of that wrong as well.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    dorpus, Jun 22nd, 2005 @ 4:31am


    The same people who oppose the MPAA couldn't possibly push their pro-piracy agenda on schoolkids, along with their pro-hacking, pro-virus-writing, pro-marijuana, pro-shoplifting, anti-global-trade politics, now could they? No, it couldn't possibly be the same kids who think blowing up schools is funny, or slashing tires on their teacher's cars is "liberation". It couldn't possibly be the weak minded kids who take what rock stars say seriously, because the MPAA brainwashed them into believing in the mystique of rock stars in the first place.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Sam, Jun 22nd, 2005 @ 6:38am


    It's not clear what quantity of DVDs were stolen. $10,000 worth to the plant (where they're presumably made for some tiny, tiny amount) could well be "worth" $30,000,000 -- 2000% markup sounds about right to me. ;)

    If their daily production is even half of their daily capacity (80,000 DVDs) then the "less than 1/10 of 1%" is almost a million units!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Devin, Jun 22nd, 2005 @ 7:01am

    Even more bad math!

    If you go read the press release they link, somebody can't do math there, either:
    "The total value of items removed was $10,540 in DVDs, plus 24 stampers valued at $3,600 each or $15,000 ..."
    24 x $3600 = $15000? Eh? 86400?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Devin, Jun 22nd, 2005 @ 7:04am

    Re: uh

    Less than 1/10 of 1% of 80000 = less than 80 units.

    Did you mean 80,000,000? In that case, it's 80000 units, not almost a million.

    Ok, I give up, where in the world did you get that number?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    brbubba, Jun 22nd, 2005 @ 7:19am

    Re: uh

    I had a short time stint at a major game company and had to deal with the companies that did reproductions for them. They were charged anywhere from $00.40 to maybe $1.00 for a special cover printing. Then there were packaging costs, which depending on the printing used could have been $1 or $4 and that doesn't include royalties to the console manufacturers. Even assuming there was no packaging and extremely cheap printing on disk you may be looking at 20-40 cents a disk. The actual value of those disks is exactly what the company charges for the repro of them.
    If you want to say the actual retail value, well you don't know that unless you consulted the company who is going to sell them in retail. At best though we are looking at around a 100% markup, Also if you did the math you would have realized that at a hypothetical retail of $1 the value of each disk to the company would only be $00.0003. So even at a very mythical $50 for a dvd the value of each disk would still on only be less than $00.02. So it is a sheer impossibility that the value to the company could ever be worth 30,000,000 in the retail market.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    greg, Jun 22nd, 2005 @ 9:09am

    Bad math doesn't end there...

    - The total value of items removed was $10,540 in DVDs, plus 24 stampers valued at $3,600 each or $15,000 - MPAA's claim of $30 million was inflated by 2,000%.

    Taking the 15,000 figure, the inflation would be 190,000%, not 2,000%. It was, rather, inflated by a -factor- of 2,000.

    Innumerate. Everyone.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    DV Henkel-Wallace, Jun 22nd, 2005 @ 12:00pm

    Re: Even more bad math!

    The word "each" is the mistake. Just remove the word "Each" from "$10,540 in DVDs, plus 24 stampers valued at $3,600 each or $15,000" and you see the 15K is fine. The stampers are worth about $150.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Doug, Jun 22nd, 2005 @ 4:07pm

    Re: uh

    Don't you mean fewer than 80 units?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2005 @ 4:55pm

    Re: Bad math doesn't end there...

    Oops. Me too...

    Actually 199,900%

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Gabe, Mar 23rd, 2007 @ 9:38am

    Re: Now

    ... What?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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