Piracy Who? MPAA Celebrates 5th Consecutive Year of Record Profits

Piracy Who? MPAA Celebrates 5th Consecutive Year of Record Profits

Bob Pisano, President and Interim CEO of the MPAA, claims it’s “impossible to compete with free,” yet the MPAA seems to have figured out how to do just that.

Instead of trying to pass draconian new copyright laws that seek to systematically hobble the Internet as we know it, American consumers might be better served if Congress passed legislation outlawing the MPAA from making any more false claims about a struggling motion picture industry.

According to its annual theatrical market statistics report worldwide box office revenue increased by 8% between 2009 and 2010 to a record-breaking total of $31.8 bln. That makes it the fifth year in a row that box office ticket sales have surpassed the year before it. All in all worldwide box office revenue is up by 25% since 2006 when it was $25.5 bln.

“It was a strong year at the movies in 2010. Despite a weak economy, shifting business models, and the ongoing impact of digital theft, we had another record year at the global box office driven by growth outside the U.S. and Canada. In the U.S. and Canada 3D was the driving force,” said Bob Pisano, President and Interim CEO of the MPAA. “Higher value entertainment continues to make a significant contribution to box office revenues.”

Oddly enough, Pisano still complains that it’s “impossible to compete with free,” yet the MPAA seems to have figured out the answer. How else could it explain another record-breaking year?

“Though innovation and technology continue to be a positive force for the theatrical business, driving moviegoers towards higher value 3D entertainment, the continued theft of movies online will have a sustained adverse impact on movie attendance in the coming years. It’s impossible to compete with free,” said Pisano. “We will continue to work with our industry partners to fight for common sense ways, through legislative, enforcement and legal avenues, to vigilantly protect the creativity at the heart of our industry from theft.”

Even the Government Accountability Office, Congress’ investigative arm, has questioned how the MPAA comes up with its piracy statistics, and news of the MPAA’s good fortune adds weight to its concern. The GAO said the MPAA relies on consumer surveys to determine piracy losses, yet was unable to figure out either its substitution rate nor how the survey was extrapolated to the rest of the population.

Faulty piracy estimates combined with record-breaking profits for the fifth year in a row ought to give legislators reason for pause before even considering new copyright enforcement provisions.

The only way to really compete with piracy is by offering viable legal alternatives. Streaming movie services like the one Netflix offers make a compelling case for file-sharers to cease illegal downloading, and yet movie studios have yet to fully embrace the platform and have severely limited the number of titles Netflix can make available.

Stay tuned.

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