The collective pants of the MPAA are on fire today. According to the HR, the MPAA is backpedaling on numbers from a 2005 study that attributed 44% of domestic losses in the motion picture industry to piracy among college students. A study that was kept deliberately secret by the organization.

Now the MPAA, known for its history of being shady and unfair, is trying to explain to Congress how a “data entry error” could go unnoticed for over two years. They’ve been using these trumped up numbers to push for tougher legislation on piracy, including the “College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007,” which would basically institute filters on college internet service providers.

The actual number is 15%, according to the MPAA (so who knows what it really is). It’s more than a little suspect that the human error they’re claiming was the problem went in their favor by 300%. Mark Luker, VP of campus IT organization Educause, says 3% is a more reasonable estimate.

What they were essentially doing was counting every single download as a lost sale, resulting in grossly inflated numbers that made their case for harsher penalties on campuses an easy sell.

They claim the $6.1 billion of worldwide revenue they’ve lost is still an accurate figure. But this total is flawed and exaggerated too.

It combines biased surveys (asking people if they would watch a movie after it was downloaded then using those results to correlate facts), a section ($1.4 billion) of non-commercial backups (ripping a file to only be used on a portable device, for example), and the same outrageous one-to-one ratio (one download equals one sale lost). Of course, no one can verify any of this because the study is still being kept private.

You may also remember around this time last year when it was trendy to blame Canada for piracy. WB and Fox (both members of the MPAA) threw around ludicrous numbers saying 50% of all piracy was starting in Canadian theaters and 70% of their films had been pirated. A quick check of the numbers by Toronto law professor Michael Geist proved these percentages were also completely false.

Piracy is still an issue, but the MPAA has proven they can’t be trusted as the authority on it or anything else.

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