MPAA Criticizes Piracy Study Because It Doesn’t Like The Results

mpaa-logoLast week we covered a new study from European researchers which revealed that the Megaupload shutdown had a negative effect on the box office revenues of smaller films.

The researchers wrote a detailed report using weekly data from 10,272 movies in 50 countries spanning over several years.

The researchers suggested that the effect may be caused by a drop in word-of-mouth promotion from pirates, which affects smaller movies more since they have smaller advertising budgets.

However, the MPAA doesn’t buy any of it, and is quick discredit the findings.

“Unfortunately, the findings in the study aren’t entirely clear and the authors’ speculation about the results and why they arrived at those results is just that – total speculation,” and MPAA spokesperson told Variety.

We beg to differ though. The findings itself are crystal clear, and the researchers have carefully documented their methodology. Of course there may be other factors that could explain the results, but that doesn’t mean that the numbers lie.

The MPAA, however, is not done yet.

“Unfortunately, in order to reach its conclusion, the Munich and Copenhagen study also all but ignores a critical piece of the box office picture – how timing or other factors that are completely unrelated to Megaupload impact the box office performance of small, medium or large films.”

Again, this is not true. The researchers rule out many alternative explanations in their paper. Also, the “timing” comment is an odd one as the MPAA then goes on to mention another Megaupload study (with favorable results) that appears to have exactly the same issue.

“And a recent study from Carnegie Mellon University found that digital sales in countries where Megaupload was popular increased after Megaupload shut down,” MPAA notes.

Ah, right. That’s the study the MPAA is promoting to lawmakers and the press.

The study that does get MPAA’s approval relies on data provided by the movie studios. It is also conducted as part of Carnegie Mellon University’s Initiative for Digital Entertainment Analytics, which is funded by the MPAA.

MPAA seems to only believe in research that is in line with their agenda, pointing out that recent research shows that piracy has negative affects on revenues.

“An independent review of the academic research available has shown that the vast majority of research available in fact does show that piracy does harm sales.”

Right, another study from Carnegie Mellon University…

That aside, when the majority of all studies says A, then that doesn’t mean that B is impossible under certain circumstances. Even the Munich and Copenhagen study shows that piracy can have a negative effect on sales, just not always.

Ir appears that the MPAA has quite a double standard when it comes to research results, and we’re pretty sure that they wouldn’t be as critical if the results had come out in their favor.

TorrentFreak asked Christian Peukert, one of the authors of the criticized Megaupload study, for a comment but he preferred not to go into any specifics.

“We do understand that a lobby organization has to criticize a study that finds surprising results, although we don’t actually feel that the criticism is very substantive,” Peukert says.

“It is a scientific study and therefore we think the scientific peer-review process is a better place for an informed and unbiased discussion,” he adds.

Perhaps that’s best indeed…


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