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23.8% Internet Traffic Related To Piracy, But MPAA Misses The Real Message

Posted by: , 13:42 AEDT, Thu February 3, 2011

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The MPAA screams from the top of the roof that Internet piracy rates are sky high, but the very studios they represent may be partially responsible for the problem

The MPAA recently trumpeted a new study commissioned by NBC Universal and conducted by Envisional which claimed that nearly a quarter of all Internet traffic around the globe was related to piracy. 

The report also claimed that, despite claims of BitTorrent being used for legal downloads, the absolute majority of downloads were in fact for pirated movies, and also porn.

But the real message of the report may have been lost in the MPAA's scaremongering campaign, because while the global average for pirated downloads was 23.8%, the average within the United States, for whatever reason, was lower - 17.53% of downloads in the US were piracy related. The report also said that the majority of downloads, based on number of seeds and downloaders (not bandwidth), were movies, not TV shows or music.

There are many ways to interpret this data, and obviously, the MPAA has chosen to paint a rather bleak picture, but an opinion piece in the Washington Post sees things very differently from the MPAA.

WP's Rob Pegoraro says that the lower piracy rates in the US is probably due to people there having better access to legal digital content in the US, via iTunes or Amazon VOD, and people in the US are less affected by release windows, which delay the release of legitimate content as studios try to eek as much cash out of each market before moving on. And that because access to legal music is already better than movies, and don't have or won't have as many release windows, this all goes some way to explain the lower music piracy rates.

And that's probably a good explanation of what is actually happening, but it's not something the MPAA would like to admit in its crusade to paint an "end-of-the-world" scenario, to get others (like the government) to join in the fight.

And even the report's author, Envisional, agrees. Replying to the Washington Post's questions about whether legal access was a key factor in piracy rates, the director of the survey had this to say:

I think the availability of legit content in the US may be one reason why infringing use is lower in the country than elsewhere worldwide: the US has Hulu, Netflix, Amazon VOD, Vudu, streaming content from the tv networks, etc. This level of availability just can't be found elsewhere. Further, the content in the greatest demand online is that which originates from the US -- television shows and films in particular -- which often take a while before they appear in other countries.

I bet you won't hear the MPAA admit to any of the above. As otherwise, it would mean that their very actions are at least the partial causes of online piracy, and that before they *demand* everyone else to take action against piracy, maybe they should have a good look at their policies first.

You can read the full Envisional report here:

So do you think movie studios can do more to reduce piracy? Post your comments in our comments section below, or in this forum thread:


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