by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
bogus stats, mpaa


MPAA Actually Admits That Some Of Its Piracy Stats Are Bogus

from the not-going-far-enough dept

For years, we've pointed to the bogus stats claimed by the MPAA concerning what kind of impact "piracy" is having. The stats incorrectly count "ripple effects" in a rather troubling manner. First, they only look at the ripple effects in one direction (those that hurt the movie studios). They don't bother to count ripple effects that go the other way (such as cheaper movies for everyone, allowing them to spend more money elsewhere, helping the economy). More importantly, though, using ripple effects is merely double, triple or quadruple-counting the actual losses, as Tim Lee brilliantly explained. Of course, that hasn't stopped reporters from citing these bogus stats as fact or politicians from using those stats to justify ridiculously awful legislation. Given all that, it's rather shocking to hear the MPAA finally admit that the stats in a recent report are bogus -- but only one specific number. Apparently, via some unexplained "human error," an MPAA study reported that 44% of "losses" due to piracy came from college campuses -- which explains the recent efforts to get new legislation forcing colleges to filter internet connections. However, the MPAA is now admitting that the real number is actually just 15%. The MPAA insists all the other numbers are perfectly fine, but didn't bother to address all of the criticisms of the methodology. This likely means that the mistake made here was so egregious that even the MPAA couldn't wait for the new legislation to pass before admitting the error. That alone, is fairly surprising. Hopefully, though, this will start convincing the press and politicians to be at least a little skeptical of numbers coming from biased industry associations.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Paul, Jan 22nd, 2008 @ 7:13pm


    ...this isn't some insidious plan to tell newspapers, "of course our numbers are correct. we corrected that other one that one time, so obviously if this was wrong we'd correct it. but we're not correcting it. so its correct. honest."

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

  2. identicon
    bunnyRoy, Jan 22nd, 2008 @ 7:59pm

    Future Legislation

    What this does is finally poke a hole in the blind confidence people (especially legislators) have in the MPAA.

    The best possible outcome here would be to have an outside PROFESSIONAL contractor, that isn't being bribed, just to be absolutely sure we can really trust the rest of their numbers. It would be very interesting to see how the numbers would come out with a 3rd party investigation.

    This also means that some of their court arguments may get a bit complicated as a nice side effect.

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

  3. identicon
    david, Jan 22nd, 2008 @ 9:02pm

    Say it ain't so...

    I hope I get modded +5 Insightful. The recording industry...uhhh...wait...

    Wow, deja vu! I knew I had already commented on this article... lol techdirt.

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

  4. identicon
    Brad, Jan 22nd, 2008 @ 11:58pm

    The future of Digital data ...

    While the MPAA seemingly have reported "incorrect" data, apparently this lil "blurb" has not recieved enough attention at this time. If society as a whole would get off their behinds and stand up for themselves .... Yes I know, American society as a whole is stupid and are just plain sheep to slaughter ... sigh. Look at how Walmart and companies like them are undermining our society and culture ... and yet we ourselves gave them the money to do it with and didn't even start complaining until it was far too late ... Hell, I'll bet that over half of America doesn't even care that this is going on ... and that IS the problem ... Most of American society just really doesn't care as long as they get that "lil" piece ... they're happy. sigh.

    Hell, I bet over half of American society doesn't even know or even care that MS Windows Vista has DRM built right into it. The MPAA are lil cry babies that never figured in the (positive) ripple affect because it wouldn't show a substantial enough loss (if any). If they don't talk about the ripple effect for the good and only focus on the bad ripple effect, of course the losses look catastrophic, but given the entire picture, you will find that the MPAA is just there to fill their pockets ...

    I wish American society would smarten the hell up ... that's not going to happen though, just look at society ... sigh, No, I'm not happy with the way that American society has ... ok, that's for another story ...

    *Steps off soapbox*

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

  5. identicon
    Brad, Jan 23rd, 2008 @ 12:03am

    Re: hopefully...

    That's the beauty of newspapers and media ... if you say it long enough and loud enough, it must be true, correct? This is the premise that I'm sure the MPAA is using I'm sure as all of the articles I have read don't ever seem to talk about any of the good effects of the "ripple effect" . They only focus on how bad the "ripple" effect really is to the big guys at the MPAA ... I see very very few artists stating that the digital arena has affected their income. I'm gonna stop here and get off my soap box.

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

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2008 @ 3:36am

    Re: Re: hopefully...

    Don't forget that if you pretend to be a law enforcement organization, everyone will think that you are part of the of government, not the corporate-sponsored lobbyists that that they are!

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

  7. identicon
    Wolfger, Jan 23rd, 2008 @ 4:55am


    I think this is a case of "if 44% of piracy stems from college campuses, then your numbers regarding the total impact are bogus". Doh! Let's change that percentage... There. All better.

    What's really absurd is calling 100% of college piracy "losses". There's no way poor college kids are actually going to buy that much music, even if piracy wasn't an option, so the actual loss is much less than stated, even if the numbers aren't cooked, which they probably are.

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

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2008 @ 7:19am

    Re: Say it ain't so...

    wow. you commented on this article on slashdot the day before it was actually posted? slashdot's article about this got posted today (1/23). TechDirt did get this one first, or at least before Slashdot did. And who cares if they have the same articles? They don't overlap all that often and TechDirt offers its perspective as well as the article, not just an excerpt and a link. They're similar sites, but still different in what they offer.

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

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2008 @ 9:23am

    Do you also eat apples and grapes when you go to the grocery store without expecting to pay for it?

    Based on a lot of comments here, I would say so. I mean, what real damage do you do compared to their overall profit?

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

  10. identicon
    Chronno S. Trigger, Jan 23rd, 2008 @ 9:49am


    Do their Grapes and Apples auto replicate? If they do than yes it affects their profit margin by 0. And for the price, I would expect to be billed for the only scarce resource in that now self sustaining store, Shelving space.

    Copyright is not theft
    Digital music is a non-scarce good
    There isn't even a shelving space issue.
    (insert standard MPAA is wrong argument here)

    Who said here that they want to download their stuff for free? It just sounds to me like these people are sick of the MPAA's crap.

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

  11. identicon
    James, Jan 23rd, 2008 @ 10:08am

    human error

    Apparently, via some unexplained "human error," we continue to allow the MPAA to exist.

    Never buy another DVD until they get their sh*t straight.

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

  12. identicon
    Cixelsid, Jan 23rd, 2008 @ 10:13am

    Re: Say it ain't so...

    Yes, LOL techdirt, hold your lunch while we take a trip on the ROFLCOPTER.

    Come to think of it, the comment section could use a funky feature like that.

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

  13. identicon
    Cixelsid, Jan 23rd, 2008 @ 10:17am

    Re: human error

    Human error? More likely....ANDROID ERROR! (tum tum tum)

    You know, because Doug Morris makes up figures by the amount of paper cuts he can fit between an employee's toes, and he drinks a lot of coffee and never has to go the bathroom. Ever.

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

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2008 @ 12:58pm

    Re: Say it ain't so...

    successful troll is successful.

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

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2008 @ 1:13pm

    Shelving space? Gee, do you have any idea how much it costs Pfizer to manufacture Lipitor? Less than a penny. How is this any different? Or, should you be able to buy Lipitor for around a nickel?

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

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