Thursday, April 24, 2008

MPAA lied, and no one cares

I read an interesting report this week regarding the MPAA lobbying of congress in 2005 to force college to adopt strict anti-piracy rules. A study conducted by LEK for the Motion Picture Association of America concluded that 44% of all MPAA losses were due to piracy on college campuses. After two years and two major rulings in their favor they have acknowledged that the study was flawed and completely inaccurate. The real number is more like 15%. Yet the damage has been done. The study was based on the assumption that every time someone downloads a film they would have bought it if they had not acquired it illegally. The 15% number reflects an adjusted analysis assuming that it is plausible that some people may have rented the film instead of buying it. So, actually, the 15% number is even flawed, because it assumes that people would have watched it if they hadn't downloaded (which some quite possibly wouldn't have) and that the people who bought would not have bought a used copy. The MPAA presented entirely false data to congress in order to force tighter restrictions on campuses. I wouldn't go so far as to assert that that is a really bad thing, it is stealing and they have a right to protect their interests. But it seems odd to me that there are no consequences for lying to congress to get what they want, and that it's not really getting any coverage. It's hard to talk about without sounding like you're trying to defend people's right to illegally download films. But doesn't this seem like a pretty flagrant case of a major conglomeration lying to the public to get what it wants and the media, the government and the public just accepting this as a part of life? It brings to mind Mark Twain's famous quote about the three types of lies: "lies, damn lies, and statistics."

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