The MPAA has probably been the worst of the various Big Copyright industries in terms of the level to which their studies
exaggerate the negative impact of unauthorized copying, while totally ignoring any
positive impact. For example, it likes to widely cite a study (which it paid for) that triple- and quadruple-counts "losses" by noting the ripple effects. At the same time, it totally ignores the same positive ripple effects (the ones that cancel out the negative ones, and may even outweigh them). Of course, a big part of this is the claim that an unauthorized copy is a "lost sale."
Now it appears that Macrovision, the big DRM company that supplies DRM to movie studios has cooked up its own study trying to support the MPAA in this argument, claiming that lots of people are copying DVDs
and that most of them would buy the DVDs they copy otherwise. However, the LA Times' Jon Healey does an excellent job pointing out the many significant weaknesses in the study
, starting, of course, with the fact that it was paid for by Macrovision, with a clear intent in the results. And while Macrovision hypes of the fact that many people in the survey said they would have bought the DVDs they copied, it ignores the fact that the majority of folks they spoke to said the DVDs they made copies of were ones they already legitimately owned
Even then, the results really aren't as significant as Macrovision would like you (or, rather, Hollywood) to believe. As Healey notes, the study completely ignores the positive impacts of being able to make a copy of a DVD. In fact, the most common reason for making a copy was for perfectly legal time-shifting or back-up purposes from DVDs they legitimately own. In other words, being able able to make those copies is a valuable
part of the DVD. Take that away and people will buy fewer
DVDs because you've made them less valuable. But, of course, that doesn't show up anywhere in the results, because that's the last thing Macrovision wants people thinking about.
While the study also hypes up the fact that more TV shows are being copied via DVD, it ignores the fact that this is probably quite beneficial
. Since TV shows are ongoing experiences, you want more viewers -- and if a copy of a DVD gets someone new hooked on the show, they're more likely to start watching it on TV or to buy a future DVD. But, again, that's not mentioned at all. Either way, props to Healey and the LA Times for digging into the numbers a bit and not just parroting the press release findings, like many other news sources.