by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jan 22nd 2008 6:40pm
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.
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