The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) commissioned a study in 2005, which resulted in a claim that 44% of industry losses (domestically) came from college students illegally downloading movies across U.S. campuses. Well, it turns out the real number is 15%.
This study and, more specifically, this particular statistic have been the basis for the MPAA pushing legislation to force universities to monitor and shut down certain online activities. Officially, the error is being called a “human error” and the MPAA still thinks that the new figure is significant even if one third the original number.
The 2005 study was conducted and released by research firm LEK and has plenty of other big numbers, such as the U.S. movie industry losing $6.1 billion to piracy worldwide. The official statement released by the MPAA is as follows: “We take this error very seriously and have taken strong and immediate action to both investigate the root cause of this problem as well as substantiate the accuracy of the latest report.”
It may be too early to tell what this could mean outside of a huge loss of creditability for both the MPAA and LEK. Even if the association’s obvious bias had nothing to do with this enormous mistake, well, it’s too much of a coincidence to be left alone.
And the MPAA is already claiming that no other errors have been found in the study (as of yet). Wrong. The 29% difference between 44% and 15% doesn’t just disappear. How does this change affect other numbers, certainly published in the report, explaining other methods of lost revenue?
Here’s hoping the House of Representatives gets this news quickly before making any rash decisions on made up numbers.