Your tax dollars are now hard at work fighting movie piracy. In theory, at least. The Hollywood Reporter has picked up on Congress' approval of a new $30 Million earmark to help extend the effectiveness of 2008's Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act. According to MPAA CEO Dan Glickman, "Congress took a major step forward by providing $30 million in funding for new FBI agents, federal prosecutors, and local and state law enforcement grants to protect American jobs and creativity by cracking down on the theft of movies and other intellectual property."

Having written a post no more than eleven days ago outlining how 2009 saw Americans handing over a record-shattering $10 billion to movie theaters across the country and how attendance was up over 3% from the same time a year prior, the arrival of this news sticks in my craw a bit. There is absolutely no questioning that movie piracy costs the corporate interests represented by the MPAA profits, but I do find Glickman's further claims a tad dubious: "Copyright industries in the U.S. lose $25.6 billion a year in revenue to piracy, the U.S. economy loses nearly 375,000 jobs either directly or indirectly related to the copyright industry, and American workers lose more than $16 billion in annual earnings."

Call me a cynic (or an idiot), but I'd like some illumination as to what jobs that 375,000 figure is referring to, especially if it is a per year figure like the one before it. It's not as though DVDs are hand made on human-run assembly lines or that Walmart has cut back the number of cashiers it employs because people aren't rushing out to buy All About Steve on a Tuesday because they downloaded it on Monday night.

I understand how a trickle-down effect could occur if distributors were to manufacture a drastically smaller number of discs year over year, as that would have a damaging effect on everyone from the companies that make DVD cases to the ones who transport them around the globe. But by that token, the same effect could have been (and may just be) set in motion by the consumer demand for legal digital delivery services like On-Demand, Amazon, and iTunes, which remove the need for the extra costs associated with creating a physical product.

I'm not out to justify piracy, but isn't it possible that these yearly loses (which are deduced by a formula the MPAA has never made clear) are due to a changing marketplace and not a legion of bandits?

But hey, what say you? Do you think piracy is as impacting as the MPAA claims? Do you care that this is something your tax money is going toward while we're in the middle of a recession?