Hollywood Frequently Misleads Press on Piracy Facts

By Jon Newton 11/01/05

Statements and statistics from the music, movie and software cartels are about as accurate as their claims that they're honest, hard-working companies with consumers' and performers' best interests at heart.

A couple of years back, the Big Four Organized Music family's RIAA said a raid against a New York counterfeit operation resulted in the equivalent of 421 CD burners being seized.

However, Bill Evans had been told the numbers was actually156.


Jon Newton

When he asked for an explanation for the discrepancy, "We stated that the raid was the equivalent of 421 burners, as we need to put these operations in perspective based on burning capacity and output, not the number of physical slots for the discs," RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) truth adjustment specialist Amy Weiss said.

"Since they burn 4x burners - it is roughly 4xs the numbers of burners."

A recent MPAA ( Motion Picture Association of America) operation netted "US$30 million in illegal stampers and DVDs," said the movie industry owned pseudo-cop unit.

How did it arrive at its "$30 million in illegal stampers and DVDs" figure, widely quoted as hard fact by the mainstream media? It "estimated" the value of the DVDs seized during the raid, "as well as the value of DVDs that could be produced using the equipment."

In BSA or BS, Britain's The Economist describes how the numbers for an oft-quoted, but extremely shaky, Business Software Alliance IDC 'report' were arrived at.

Among other things, it says, "The association's figures rely on sample data that may not be representative, assumptions about the average amount of software on PCs and, for some countries, guesses rather than hard data. Moreover, the figures are presented in an exaggerated way by the BSA and International Data Corporation (IDC), a research firm that conducts the study. They dubiously presume that each piece of software pirated equals a direct loss of revenue to software firms."

RIAA statements that its sue 'em all marketing campaign is effectively turning people away from the p2p networks have repeatedly been proved to be arrant nonsense, but mainstream media reports continue to carry the assertions as though they're true.

However, the MPAA has been getting much of the media attention, of late, and as frequent p2pnet tipster Bennie says, in Slate, Edward Jay Epstein refers to a New York Times correction which read:

"An article last Sunday about film piracy included incorrect revenue data supplied by the Motion Picture Association of America. Hollywood's global revenue in 2004 was $44.8 billion, not $84 billion. Of the total, $21 billion, not $55.6 billion, came from sales of DVDs and Videos."

The correction was the result of a Times reporter, Timothy L. O'Brien, asking the Motion Picture Association of America to, "furnish the combined global take of the major studios in 2004," says Epstein. "The six major studios submit their revenue reports to the MPAA, which, in turn, compiles the total revenue received from theatrical distribution, video sales (now mainly DVD), and television licensing. These data are then circulated among top executives in the All Media Revenue Report."

Instead of supplying the New York Times with the actual numbers, "the MPAA sent bogus figures," he states in his Slate story.

"Hollywood's DVD revenue alone was inflated by more than $33 billion, possibly to make the MPAA's war against unauthorized copying appear more urgent. Of course, the reporter had no way of knowing these impressive-sounding numbers were inaccurate and published them in an otherwise accurate story on film piracy."

Such are the perils of Hollywood reporting, Epstein observes, adding, "pushing the reality envelope is simply seen by the entertainment press and the players themselves as just part of show biz".

But what can you do?

Mainstream writers and editors often say editorial and advertising are two separate departments with absolutely nothing to do with each other. But that's baloney. The entertainment companies pour billions of advertising dollars into the print and electronic outlets they don't own or control in one way or another. Ask Rupert Murdoch.

Or ask ex-Billboard editor-in-chief Keith Girard who was allegedly told, "not to publish any editorials, editorial cartoons, articles or features that might 'piss off' the major record companies and cause them to withhold advertising or cancel subscriptions".

Stay tuned.

Jon Newton is the editor of p2pnet.net and is a regular contributer to MP3 Newswire. Jon's site is devoted to the politics of digital music and his insights as well as those of his co-writers can be read there. We urge you to explore it.

Other MP3 stories:
Notes on the iPod Video and selling TV Shows on iTunes
Thoughts on Apple, Satellite Radio and the Record Industry


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