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MPAA admits movie piracy study is 29% full of @$#%

Exaggerated case used to push legislation

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A 2005 study by the Motion Picture Association of America claimed that illegal downloads from college students accounted for an enormous 44 per cent of the industry's domestic losses.

Now the MPAA admits the figure was inflated just a wee bit as result of "isolated error" in the methodology. College kids are actually only responsible for about...15 per cent of lost revenue, according to its upcoming report.

"We take this error very seriously and have taken strong and immediate action to both investigate the root cause of this problem as well as to substantiate the accuracy of the latest report," said the organization in a statement today. (PDF warning)

Let's be fair: the number "4" is only single button down from the "1" on a keypad. And the "5" is immediately to its right.

Say you're an intern at LEK (the consulting firm that dreamed up the rogue MPAA figures). There's a MPAA suit standing over your shoulder. He's barking away that they need those numbers in by 8:30 AM sharp to shock Congress into cracking down on copyright laws like the fist of an angry god. He's working himself into a lather about mothers and sons losing their homes due to piracy. These kids are stealing billions and if you take any longer Will Smith is going to need to root around in a garbage dump to feed his family. Do you want that son? DO YOU WANT THAT!? Spittle is hitting the back of your neck.

Keyboard button accuracy becomes less of a priority.

So you hit "44" and everyone seemed happy. Lawmakers are outraged at the breadth of the theft. In 2007, the Senate passes 95-0 a rewording of the Higher Education Reform Act that ties educational funding to campus participation in fighting piracy. Things look good for the MPAA until they have to eat humble pie today.

But the organization justifies that its new (allegedly) accurate data confirms that college campuses are still a hotbed of piracy.

"Although college students make up three per cent of the population, they are responsible for a disproportionate amount of stolen movie products in this country."

Or maybe granny needs to step her movie theft up a notch. It's hard to tell with these figures. About 74 per cent of Register readers say maybe. But 39 per cent aren't so sure. ®

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