The MPAA is quietly funding research that produces pro-copyright conclusions in order to step up their political lobbying efforts.
Hollywood's top lobbyist will provide $20,000 grants for research on a list of pre-defined topics, provided the researcher is affiliated with an academic institution.
One such topic involves studying the effectiveness of notice and takedown regimes, but the description for the topic already removes the possible conclusion that these regimes simply do no work, and instead, calls on the academic to provide "recommendations for increased effectiveness".
Publicly, the MPAA, according to MPAA boss Chris Dodd, is calling for unbiased research into the "evolving role of copyright" and "how these changes are impacting the film industry".
But privately, via information revealed in leaked Sony emails, it seems bias is exactly what Hollywood is seeking. An email from MPAA General Counsel Steven Fabrizio in no uncertain terms says the MPAA is only seeking pro-copyright research.
"As you know, as one component of our Academic Outreach program, the MPAA is launching a global research grant program both to solicit pro-copyright academic research papers and to identify pro-copyright scholars who we can cultivate for further public advocacy," Fabrizio writes.
The MPAA has also been funding a piracy research program at Carnegie Mellon University, providing over a million dollars in funding to the program which has thus far produced several pro-copyright studies. One such study found that shutting down Megaupload boosted movie revenues (despite other independent studies showing the opposite effect), and that search engine censorship will help reduce piracy.