MPAA Accidentally (On Purpose?) Exaggerated Impact of Piracy

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


mojo-photo-mpaa.jpgHey, remember the MPAA? The Motion Picture Association of America? Well, like their buddies in the RIAA, they’ve been using every tactic they can think of to fight illegal downloading of movies, especially on college campuses; that includes lobbying lawmakers to sanction educational institutions on whose intertubes the naughty downloading was done. But it turns out the numbers they used as the basis for their claims were a wee bit exaggerated. The MPAA just revealed (pdf link) that a 2005 study which claimed that “44% of the motion picture industry’s domestic losses were attributable to piracy by college students” was, erm, a mistake:

While in the process of recently updating that study with current data, we discovered there had been an isolated error in the LEK process two years ago that resulted in an inflated number for piracy by college students. The 2005 study had incorrectly concluded that 44 percent of the motion picture industry’s domestic losses were attributable to piracy by college students. The 2007 study will report that number to be approximately 15 percent — or nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in stolen content annually by college students in the U.S.

The MPAA is blaming research firm LEK for the “data entry” error, but still, according to the Hollywood Reporter, it “makes it more difficult to believe whatever numbers the MPAA or LEK generate.” Chuh. Of course the MPAA claims that even the, er, “revised” numbers prove that on-campus downloading still causes “nearly $250 million in losses”—hey that’s almost the worldwide gross of Alvin and the Chipmunks! Coincidence?

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate