US Pirate Party Study: MPAA Piracy Claims ‘Don’t Hold Water’

“Piracy at the Pictures: Do the Figures Add Up?” examines film industry figures and the reality of their claims.

Today the Pirate Party of the United States released the initial findings from it’s first study, entitled “Piracy at the Pictures: Do the Figures Add Up?,” that examines film industry figures and the reality of their claims.

“We at the Pirate party believe strongly in law, justice and truth,” said states party Administrator, and study author, Andrew Norton. “When you have people trying to change the law, or pervert justice using something that is not the truth, we feel, as does every other reasonable and sane person, that the truth should be highlighted. Further, to prove the truth behind our claims, we will be publishing not only the methodology behind the study, but the raw study data as well.”

The aim behind the study was simple, to investigate claims that movie attendances have suffered as a result of CAM piracy. With past MPAA claims that some 90% of pirate DVDs originate from versions shot in Canada and New York they wondered if the figures actually matched these claims.

“To keep things simple and fair, “says Mr. Norton, “we took the top ten films for the past eleven years. These films are the ones most likely to be recorded at the cinema, and distributed online, or on the street. The findings make for interesting reading we think.”

They do indeed, for among some of Mr. Norton’s initial findings is that he found "little, or no link between P2P networks, and cinema box office sales," notably in the case of the year’s top films, which "common sense would also suggest to be the ones most likely to be distributed and ‘pirated’."

To prove his point he created a graph, as shown below, that illustrates the annual combined box office gross revenues for the top 5, and top 10 films for each of the last 12 years.

Despite all the MPAA’s doom and gloom about file-sharing creating starving actors, actresses, stagehands, etc., the movie industry has enjoyed record ticket sales. In fact, last year they grossed more than any year studied except 2004, a year when file-sharing was already common. With the continued rise in popularity of file-sharing networks, the increasing power of computers, the decreasing complexity of such programs, the greater public knowledge of file-sharing, and the increasing connectivity of computers with televisions, as well as the increased availability of hardware able to play video files from the internet, it’s contrary to film industry claims to discover that each year has been better than the last for the MPAA over the last several years.

Mr. Norton also casts doubt on the whole Star Wars III workprint release affair by noting that despite its leak it still was the top grossing movie of the year. Adding to the doubts on the harm of file-sharing is that it enjoyed more box office success than Star Wars II which had no workprint leak.

It’s no surprise that the MPAA’s figures don’t add up. I’m sure they hate the fact that some people are able to view their copyrighted material without coughing up a fee of their liking. By inflating and misrepresenting their losses it makes it easier to get favorable legislation passed that makes it more difficult for people to do so.

Remember how the MPAA reported that college students were responsible for 44% of domestic piracy losses only to later reveal that it was in fact 15%? WIth "human error" to blame for a 300% discrepancy in that case is it really that far fetched to suggest that a similar discrepancy is possible with the other figures they routinely cite?

Jared Moya

I've been interested in P2P since the early, high-flying days of Napster and KaZaA. I believe that analog copyright laws are ill-suited to the digital age, and that art and culture shouldn't be subject to the whims of international entertainment industry conglomerates.


This will likely be footnoted at best as it doesn't agree with the MPAA's tunnel vision they're dead-set on 1 Pirate copy = 1 lost ticket sale. A more interesting comparison would be how many DVDs of top grossing movies of the year are sold in the last 10 years as most people I know have downloads to not damage physical media I'm curious as to if it affects re-playable media...


Whoa whoa whoa. This *could* be widely distributed nation-wide news information if we the community who pay attention tell the rest of the populace. Stuff the MPAA and traditional media outlets... Ultimately it rests on our shoulders. Fight the System!


do they honestly think... that if somebody uploads a movie and then someone else downloads it at half the quality (in most cases) and nether one of these people are seeing a profit from doing that they actually think they lost a sale?? i don't think so!! just means your movies worth any money to them. in fact they might suck! and we don't want to waste any more money on them it's that simple if you produced high quality movies that we like and maybe added in some cool bonuses in the purchased version... I would no doubt buy it as i have done with so many other poplar movies and games the only reason I've got them on the shelve is because i take pride in owning them....such as half life call of duty 300 how high James bond etc you name it!... as a marketer myself I give stuff that I've worked hard on! away for free! and in return people like me and i get friends who trust me for doing this...when i offer them something they always ask me how much i want for it without hesitation... and they actually know it's something good and worthwhile buying now a days no films are worth any money because it doesn't matter how good they are so long as people are forced into buying something they haven't seen yet... ever came out of a cinema and felt totally ripped off? I did when i went to see the latest Indiana Jones