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MPAA Comes Out Swinging Against Brief That Shows Piracy is not Harmful

Posted by: , 22:45 AEDT, Thu October 10, 2013

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MPAA criticizes London School of Economics brief that exposed the one-sidedness of the copyright debate in the political arena
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Image/Photo Credit: Horia Varlan @ Flickr, CC

The MPAA has responded to a media brief from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) that cautioned against the commonly held belief that piracy is hurting the entertainment industry. Instead, the report urges the film and music industries to embrace the sharing culture on the Internet, which it says is actually helping these industries.

In a blog post on the official MPAA blog, the MPAA took time to debunk the report.

LSE scholars pointed out the fact that the movie industry, in particular, was in a very healthy state in terms of revenue, despite the threat of piracy. The MPAA called this argument "unsophisticated and misleading", saying that whether Hollywood's revenue has increased or decreased is not the queston. The right question, the MPAA says, is "what would sales have been in the absence of piracy".

The MPAA also attacked the report as generally being "biased against the concept of copyright". The report lauds the increasing use of Creative Commons shared licensing, and uses related examples as why the online sharing culture may be incompatible with the concept of strong copyright protection. The MPAA disagrees, saying these are not mutually exclusive concepts. "Creators and audiences alike benefit from the creator’s right to choose how best to share their work," the rebuttal read.

The MPAA aren't the only ones who have attacked the LSE's media brief. Music industry analyst Mark Mulligan took to his blog to argue against a section of the brief which looked at the music industry's recent revenue outlook. The LSE scholars argued that live music revenue has offset losses to recorded music, but Mulligan says that live music revenue is often over-reported, and that only a small amount of it makes its way to the artists. 

Artists generally do not receive a large portion of recorded sales either, the sector potentially most affected by piracy.

One of the authors of the LSE media brief responded to these rebuttals in an interview with TorrentFreak. Dr. Bart Cammaert says that these critiques has largely missed the point of the report, which was not to defend piracy, but to put forth counter-arguments against industry held notions that are often ignored in the ideological battle over copyright.

"The main problem here is that the copyright and file sharing debate is waged in a highly ideological fashion. In other words, the industry is itself guilty of the allegations it fields at us. A closer reading of what we actually say in the reports shows furthermore that the industry has misread what we actually say.

"In addition to this, we would argue that in this debate we only really hear the self-interested arguments and skewed figures of the lobby organizations calling for repression. We almost never hear the many counter-arguments to their positions.

"Hence, one of the main aims of our policy briefs is to rebalance this and list, document, outline the counter-arguments to this repressive logic and to the same old tune that the internet is killing the video stars. From this perspective, the entertainment industry refuting and taking issue with our findings and conclusions is hardly surprising and as far as we’re concerned totally logical," Cammaert told TorrentFreak.


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