The MPAA has been on the case of college students for years, pressuring scools to crack down on student residences that were causing the industry 44% of its total losses. We get wind today that this was flat out bullshit, thanks to the fabled caves of Yahoo!
In a 2005 study it commissioned, the Motion Picture Association of America claimed that 44 percent of the industry’s domestic losses came from illegal downloading of movies by college students, who often have access to high-bandwidth networks on campus. But now the MPAA, which represents the U.S. motion picture industry, has told education groups a “human error” in that survey caused it to get the number wrong. It now blames college students for about 15 percent of revenue loss. The MPAA says that’s still significant, and justifies a major effort by colleges and universities to crack down on illegal file-sharing. But Mark Luker, vice president of campus IT group Educause, says it doesn’t account for the fact that more than 80 percent of college students live off campus and aren’t necessarily using college networks. He says 3 percent is a more reasonable estimate for the percentage of revenue that might be at stake on campus networks.
Well, this is no surprise. The MPAA has made all sorts of wild claims about downloading in the past, and when you tabulated the numbers that were going around – it seemed like they didn’t understand how percentage works. We fist noticed this when they claimed that 70% of screen tapings came from Canada, 40% from New York, and China wasn’t even added to the equation. It appears they have decided to come clean and admit that it is a human error.
I am skeptical about the human error card, if I lie and don’t back up my facts – is claiming “human error” a valid excuse? I may use that one! I will admit that is nice to see the MPAA coming out and admitting to their mistakes. But with professionals like Mark Lurker suggesting that 3% is a more reasonable number – it looks like further number crunching needs to be done. 44 to 3 is quite a discrepancy.