Dept. of Convenient Human Error

Google "44" and "piracy" and MPAA and you'll find this factoid:

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.

It's cited in academic papers and university policies and... it's not true.

The MPAA has used the study to pressure colleges to take tougher steps to prevent illegal file-sharing and to back legislation currently before the House of Representatives that would force them to do so.

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.

Surely, they'll now ask the colleges that changed their policies to take the heat off.

Via Boing Boing.

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  • ||

    The answer is simple.
    Just ban high-speed internet. That would fix everything, and save a lot of jobs at companies being replaced by spooky internet companies.

  • Mister DNA||

    How much of their domestic losses come from their insistence on making shitty movies?

  • Episiarch||

    Damn you, Mister Kamikaze/DNA, you beat me to it. Since Hollywood purposefully now makes their movies stupider so that they are easier to translate for a foreign audience, they shouldn't complain about losses in domestic revenue.

    They can make the movies for the English-speaking market or the world market. I totally understand them making them for the world, as it's a bigger market; but don't complain about domestics when you do.

  • ||

    I trust the MPAA is not counting the unauthorized downloading of a $10 movie as a loss of $10 of revenue.

    After all, the choice the consumer has is not exclusively between downloading it for free or buying it for $10. The choice the consumer has is between downloading it for free, buying it for $10, or doing something else entirely that has absolutely nothing to do with the movie. Eliminating the first option does not eliminate the last option and does not equate to $10 of revenue.

    Actually, I take it back... I don't trust the MPAA to account for that.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    And the revenue to the movie maker isn't the $10.00 retail it's the gross wholesale revenue from selling the movie to Target and Wal-Mart.

  • ||

    It's doubtful that they would. Opportunity cost tends to be lost on the douchebags in the music and movie industries.

  • jj||

    Episiarch, I don't think that foreign audiences need dumber movies. I think that American audiences do.

  • ||

    How the broken system works:

    (1) Publish a BS 44% infringement figure,
    (2) Lobby hard to extort colleges into implementing costly anti-infringement programs,
    (3) After bill passes committee, admit lie and see if congresspeople care.
    (4) Since trial balloon didn't pan out, point to actual 15% figure as a reason to pull the part of the bill tying federal funding to MPAA initiatives.
    (5) Shrug shoulders, whistle "Ain't Misbehavin'", and do NOT make eye contact.

  • Kinnath||

    Under the next Clinton adminstration, the department of Convenient Human Error will split into two new cabinet level positions: The Department of Obsfucation and Misrepresentation(DOOM) as well as the Department of Just Plain Making Shit Up (DOJSUP)

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    44 percent of the industry's domestic losses came from illegal downloading of movies by college students are because 44% of all the movies Hollywood makes aren't worth watching. Even wine don't help.

    Fixed that.

    I would feel much sorrier for those poor bastards if they instituted a Costco-style refund program where you could take the DVD back or go to the ticket office at the theater and get a full refund for being forced to sit through yet another piece of crap movie that makes no earthly sense, has no continuity, and where some currently striking writer cobbled together an ending from last year's blockbuster because nobody can write their way out of a paper bag.

  • ||

    I get it. So now it's the writers' fault. Is there a dispute with the writers going on or something?

  • ||

    By the way, Bill Clinton was extraordinarily beholden to the copyright lobby during his tenure in office and acted (and appointed) accordingly. I expect similar results if the ex-First Lady regains her rightful place in the White House.

  • ||

    I expect all of the candidates to bow before their copyright overlords. The Dems do it because they need milk from Hollywood, and the GOP does it because they drink from the corporate wells.

  • Episiarch||

    Episiarch, I don't think that foreign audiences need dumber movies. I think that American audiences do.

    Sigh. I knew this was going to be misunderstood.

    The movies are designed to be simpler and contain less concepts that make sense only or mostly to Americans (and maybe Commonwealthers), so that they can be released widely and with a minimum of effort. This drains much of the personality out of situations, dialog, and characters, and makes them less appealing to domestic audiences.

    However, TV is designed to appeal to Americans because it's through ratings (domestically) that ad revenue is generated. And if you'll notice, TV has been kicking ass for years with some really great shows, while movies have been going in the shitter at the same time.

    You do the math.

  • ||

    Lots of explosions, car chases, grunting, ticking bombs, fight scenes....these things need no translation. Character development? That's a cultural minefield.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    So now it's the writers' fault

    Hyperbole my dear Mr Lamar. However, judging by the crappy plotlines in many movies, I'd say screenwriters could take some direction from those who write fiction. It's an insular business. Not who you know, it's who you blow. :-)

    Further, let me spread the manure around a little. I blame the the entire industry for the crapola they serve up. Take Spiderman III. Please. I'll sell it to you for five bucks. Wait, can't do that. It's immoral to rip off your friends.

  • kinnath||

    The success of a movie is no longer measured on domestic box office. It is domestic box office, global box office, premier cable channel run, second-tier cable channel run, DVD sales, DVD rentals, and ancilliary sales (books, comics, shirts, toys, etc).

    Movies are commercials now, just like Saturday morning cartoons.

  • Peter||

    okay, first of all, anyone who says that foreign audiences are sooo much more sophisticated than American ones obviously hasn't been to that many foreign countries or seen that many foreign movies. They are just as saturated with crap, and they have just as many idiots across the pond. They just don't quite grasp the concept of self-deprecation as well as we do, or rather, don't want to.

    Second, any film worth its salt, most people, I'm confident would rather see on the big screen for aesthetic reasons. I've spoken to many about this - and not just cinephiles. In addition, while it is convenient to see something instantly when you download it, there is a certain finality associated with owning a commercially produced DVD that having some sharpie marked blank disc will never approach, and whose quality will never equal. Sure, there are those who pooh-pooh such bourgeoise conventions, but the majority of consumers still hold them dear. There's a reason Cherios will always outsell Generic Roasted Oat O's, despite their lower price.

  • .||

    I have a solution.

    Make fewer movies. Only make the good ones. I pay for those willingly. Most people do. There are movies out there that, going in to the theatre, I know there is a reasonable chance that my 10$ will be worth it. Sure it may only happen a few times a year, but all of those films will be highly profitable.

  • ||

    So has anybody taken a look at how they overstated the percentage of losses 300%? I'm assuming that the 15% is an exaggeration, so I'm wondering how they made such an extreme math error and got such an outrageous number. Are they blaming earmarks or something? @8)-

  • Miggs||

    And if you'll notice, TV has been kicking ass for years with some really great shows, while movies have been going in the shitter at the same time.


    I assume you're not talking about network TV.

  • ||

    Lamar,

    Hollywood accounting has always been rather creative. Which is why you should never accept net as the basis for your percentage take on a film.

  • Episiarch||

    I assume you're not talking about network TV.

    I will now list some network TV shows that either I or a shitload of people other than me think are great:

    House
    Smallville
    Prison Break
    24
    The Shield
    Lost
    Heroes
    The Closer
    Family Guy

    And that's just off the top of my head.

  • Mister DNA||

    Movies are commercials now, just like Saturday morning cartoons.



    This is the same reason that the music industry is supposedly hurting today. Entertainment is marketed as mere "product".

    I was just a kid when Animal House came out, and I remember it being funny as hell. Not because the name "National Lampoon" was in the title, but because of great writing, a good director, and a superb ensemble cast. For 30 years, Hollywood has been trying to repeat the success of Animal House not by the tried-and-true formula of great writing/direction and casting but by stamping the name "National Lampoon" on a whole bunch of inferior movies.

    Hell, there's probably kids who have no interest in seeing Animal House simply because it has the words "National Lampoon" in the title.

  • kinnath||

    Saving Grace
    Burn Notice
    L&O Criminal Intent

  • kinnath||

    Oh yah, Pushing Daisies

  • ||

    Since Hollywood purposefully now makes their movies stupider so that they are easier to translate for a foreign audience, they shouldn't complain about losses in domestic revenue.

    Shouldn't this not be a problem in a free market? Shouldn't competitors seek to profit from Hollywood's neglect by releasing movies more appealing to domestic audiences?

    It's more a combination of the fact that 95% of movies have always been crap, we just forget about the crap from 20 years ago; and the fact that Americans really have become used to duller language in all media (compare a newspaper from 1958 with one from 2008, for instance), even those that aren't destined for translation.

  • ||

    The Office.

    It's not a comedy. It's a documentary.

  • ||

    Oh yah, Pushing Daisies

    This is an example of a show that "loads of other people" like, right? I don't want to lose my respect for you, kinnath, by thinking you're into the faux-cleverness.

  • Mister DNA||

    Arrested Development (R.I.P.)
    Freaks & Geeks (R.I.P.)

  • Episiarch||

    Shouldn't this not be a problem in a free market? Shouldn't competitors seek to profit from Hollywood's neglect by releasing movies more appealing to domestic audiences?

    No, it's not a problem, and I said I had no problem with Hollywood trying to make more money in a larger market.

    There are people trying to profit from Hollywood's neglect, but with movies, it's tough. You need a lot of money to make a movie, even a zero-special effects shot-on-cheap-digital story. Somebody has to front that money. Right now, it's studios, and they want maximum return (which is their right, fronting the money and all), so they make demands for dumbing-down.

    A lot of the big movies are terrible. But they make money. Even if a 100 million dollar film only makes $110 million box office, it still made $10 million. Why would they stop? It's not like these executives are idiots. They may not have any taste or style, but they'll figure out pretty fast what the best models for making money are--or they'll lose their jobs.

  • ||

    So Hollow-woods real profit downturn is a two fold issue; crap none wish to pay to see, and, theft by insiders who have new releases on the black market even before release day...the same business model that had polish hams in wharf district groceries before the ship was unloaded.

    Screw Jack Valenti and his clown posse.

  • kinnath||

    This is an example of a show that "loads of other people" like, right?

    There is no reason at all for a show like Pushing Daisies to succeed on commercial TV, but it was holding its own in the ratings before it ran out of episodes due to the writer's strike.

    I personally like the show, but then I had that freaky fling with a bunch of theater folks during my misbegotten youth.

    That kind of humor is exceedingly hard to pull off. Pushing Daisies succeeds as often as it fails, which is a hell of a lot better than the majority of shows that make it past pilots.

  • ||

    kinnath,

    Well, my problem with the one episode I saw was that the voice-over sounded incredibly pretentious, and the sources of plot tension are ridiculous and untenable. The Piemaker and his undead wife could just invest in some rubber gloves, ponchos, and condoms and the show would be pointless.

  • ||

    "Shouldn't this not be a problem in a free market? Shouldn't competitors seek to profit from Hollywood's neglect by releasing movies more appealing to domestic audiences?"

    I suspect there are independent films and even some Hollywood releases that are intelligent, fine movies. Of course, when the free market and basic economics say "make more stupid shoot 'em ups", then Hollywood dedicates more resources to that type of movie. Thus, there is excess brain power not being used and is wasted.

    From a selfish point of view, I wish we could have more than the random indie film or even rarer Hollywood release that uses all available brain power. Hollywood is simply not firing on all cylinders.

  • ||

    Firefly!

  • ||

    Arrested Development is one of the saddest losses in television history :(

  • kinnath||

    Well, my problem with the one episode I saw . . .

    The show has been uneven, when it's good, it's good, when it's not it's not.

    that the voice-over sounded incredibly pretentious,

    Yup

    and the sources of plot tension are ridiculous and untenable.

    Yup

    The Piemaker and his undead wife long-lost-girlfriend could just invest in some rubber gloves, ponchos, and condoms and the show would be pointless.

    Yup

    But, when it works it's far more imaginative than the normal crap on mainstream TV.


  • Episiarch||

    Battlestar Galactica

    Flash Gordon (HAHAHA, just kidding)

  • ||

    I don't think bringing up really good shows that were cancelled due to poor ratings during their first season is really helping the case that TV >> movies...

    I liked Drive, too, and that was cancelled 10 days after the first episode aired.

  • ||

    Oh, she's his girlfriend? For some reason I thought she was his wife. Must be my innocent Catholic sensibility rearing its head again...

  • Mister DNA||

    Speaking of brilliant TV series that were canceled way too soon, is Small Wonder ever getting a DVD release? I'm getting burned out on the fan fiction...

  • kinnath||

    Oh, she's his girlfriend? For some reason I thought she was his wife. Must be my innocent Catholic sensibility rearing its head again...

    It's actually a complicated plot line (think soap opera) that you can't understand if you haven't seen them all.

    Many people are going to hate this show and that's OK. Me, I'd rather see someone attempt something unique and fail rather than more of the same-old-same-old.

  • ||

    Mister DNA,

    thank you for supporting my contention that we just forget about the crap of the olden days. I wonder if the robot-controlling supercomputer "Viki" in I, Robot movie was named after the character from that show.

  • My Guitar Wants to Kill Your M||

    Hollywood's archaic distribution model goes a long way towards creating the market for pirated movie screeners. By releasing films domestically first, and overseas later, Hollywood has made the only way for a film fan overseas to see the movie when it comes out here is to wait month or 3 until the Hollywood geniuses deign to ship copies overseas, or buy a pirated DVD.

    The drive to make high quality screeners is largely fueled by the profits to be made from beating Hollywood out on overseas distribution scheduling. Only later someone generally hangs a copy to the p2p networks. But without the frontside profit, we'd see a lot fewer people willing do what it takes to film good copies of new movies in theaters.

  • Donald Draper||

    Mad Men!

  • ||

    There's a reason Cherios will always outsell Generic Roasted Oat O's, despite their lower price.
    Honey Nut Toasty O's!!

  • JV||

    I lived in a dormitory during the last school year. The university's IT board decided to cut the bandwidth significantly in an attempt to prevent file-sharing and the connection usually ran at about 28k during peak usage hours...

  • ||

    Mister DNA,

    Here's a temporary fix for you until the DVD comes out.

  • Mister DNA||

    Thanks, crimethink. Instead of actually watching the episodes, I can be entertained just reading the comments:

    it's been awhile, but in retrospect, that show is awful. In fact it's borderline unwatchable, somewhere near the "Manos, the hands of fate" catergory. Well, maybe not Manos, but certainly shitty.



    Some of the comments by the people who actually like the show are downright creepy.

  • ||

    I agree Epistarch.

    TV has been shockingly good lately. In America, we have HBO, well-known for sensationalism and explicit sex, but of late also host to a lot of frankly excellent drama (Deadwood, The Wire).

    If you're willing to find and download shows, Britain has had an excellent run this decade too. Some, like Ricky Gervais celeb sitcom Extras, are familiar to cable viewers here. Others are less well known but even more worth knowing, including the quite deranged drama Funland and Armando Iannucci's politicom The Thick of It, which may be the best show based on politics that anybody has made in a long time.

  • thoreau||

    95% of movies have always been crap, we just forget about the crap from 20 years ago

    I'll bet that there were ancient Greeks complaining about plays like "Dude, Where's My Chariot?" and "Big Momma's Farmhouse 2". But that crap was forgotten.

  • ||

    Ninety-five percent of all things are crap. Since we have more than enough crap of our own to deal with, why revive classical crap? If we found that the Library of Alexandria actually had a vault of copies, and we located that vault, I'm sure that Helen Does Helots would be more typical than not.

  • ee||

    I'll bet that there were ancient Greeks complaining about plays like "Dude, Where's My Chariot?" and "Big Momma's Farmhouse 2". But that crap was forgotten.

    If only the Greeks had had the forethought to employ lackluster WEP encryption on this crap it would be all the rage on your nearest university campus. And probably fun too.

  • ||

    To those that mentioned TV shows:

    The majority of the shows you mentioned are cable, not network shows.

    I bet network TV would be better but for the FCC.

  • Anon||

    Jeez people, we "pirate" movies and mp3s because:

    - we can
    - we would feel stupid shelling out $15 for a CD these days when others get it for free

  • R C Dean||

    Jeez people, we pirate" movies and mp3s shoplift because
    - we can
    - we would feel stupid shelling out $15 for a CD money for shit we want these days when others get it for free

  • ||

    Big Bang Theory
    CSI (original)
    Numbers
    Criminal Minds
    Bones

    Freaks & Geeks and Undeclared were both fantastic and it just goes to show, like with politics and religion (ducks), there are only a few smart people in this world who "get it."

    Deadwood and Rome are both over, and that sucks. I dropped HBO. Will have to rent the Wire DVDs, everyone says it's the best show ever.

    Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles is actually surprisingly decent as was Drive. Too bad, too, because 24 has gotten worse every season.

  • ||

    RC Dean: Why are you giving up so easily? You went from calling infringement "piracy" to mere "shoplifting."

    Personally, I like to call infringement "murder" because that's really what you are doing. You are murdering somebody else's potential and vague future transaction which may or may not occur. You are all song MURDERERS!! It's really terrorism when you think about it.....

  • Egosumabbas||

    Of shows that I can record on my DVR:

    Battlestar Galactica
    The Sarah Connor Chronicles
    Family Guy
    Dr. Who
    Lost
    Torchwood
    Aqua Teen Hunger Force
    Robot Chicken
    South Park
    Simpsons
    The Office

    Most of the other shows listed by other people I haven't even heard of.

    Also, just for fun, I'd like to throw in a guilty pleasure: American Idol when they're weeding out the really sucky people. The embarathy/schadenfreude is almost overwhelming.

  • Egosumabbas||

    Of shows no longer on the air, I'd like to point out Firefly and Rome. Enterprise got good when they knew they were getting canceled and allowed Manny Coto to do whatever he wanted. Fuck you Berman and Braga.

  • kinnath||

    Will have to rent the Wire DVDs, everyone says it's the best show ever.

    I'm eight episodes into the first year. It is outstanding.

  • ||

    When Hollywood does accidentally create a hit, they do their best to ruin it afterwards:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Han_shot_first

  • ||

    slacker, the bigger travesty was making episodes I, II, and III all suck.

  • B||

    "Surely, they'll now ask the colleges that changed their policies to take the heat off"

    And they should, because after all, those college students are only breaking the law. After all, violations of intellectual property law never hurt anyone, do they?

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