In December, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) issued a press release that claimed it had lost $58 billion and 373,00 jobs due to online piracy. However, a few weeks ago, TED Blog questioned those numbers, stating they were off by a whopping $50 billion.
"These numbers originated at a think tank called the 'Institute for Policy Innovation' – an organization that Businessweek once profiled in an article called 'Op-Eds for Sale.' In it, an IPI analyst freely admitted to taking payoffs from disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff in exchange for writing 'op-ed pieces boosting the lobbyist’s clients.' The IPI’s president supported this behavior, saying it was neither wrong nor unethical, and dismissing those who apply 'a naïve purity standard' to the business of writing op-eds. This doesn’t necessarily mean that MPAA lobbyists paid the IPI to conjure up these numbers. But whatever their genesis, they’re not easy figures to support."
In the video above, author Rob Reid sates that overall movie revenues are up (if you include home sales), while the MPAA reports that ticket sales are down, at least in the U.S.
So are the numbers low due to rampant piracy? Or are they low because the economy is still down and ticket prices are going up? (Or is Hollywood simply making less must-see movies?)
Reid spoke about this "copyright math" at a TED event in Long Beach, which plays more like stand-up than market analysis. (As Techdirt headlined their article on the video: When Entertainment Industry Numbers Are More Suited To Comedy Than Analysis.)
You can read more about the MPAA's potentially trumped up numbers in full over on the TED Blog.
As for the MPAA's response, we've their LA office but have yet to hear back.
UPDATE: Here is a comment from Kate Bedingfield, the director of strategic communications at the MPAA:
"I don’t have any comment for you from the MPAA, but I do want to flag this recent post in which [Steve] Siwek, the author of the study [that cited the $58 billion loss], talks about the numbers."
The post Bedingfield is referring to -- and can be read in full here -- gives a better look into why the MPAA arrived at their original number.