WASHINGTON (Hollywood Reporter) - The major motion picture
studios had egg on their faces Wednesday as they tried to
explain to Congress and educators why a key number in a highly
touted study of on-campus piracy was wrong.
A 2005 study commissioned by the Motion Picture Association
of America "incorrectly concluded that 44 percent of the motion
picture industry's domestic losses were attributable to piracy
by college students," MPAA spokesman Seth Oster said Wednesday.
It turns out that only 15 percent of the industry's
domestic losses were caused by college students, he said.
LEK, the firm that the MPAA had hired to do the survey,
discovered the error when it was computing losses for the
MPAA's 2007 study.
"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 substantiate the accuracy of the latest
report," Oster said.
The mistake, which MPAA sources said LEK attributed to a
"data entry" error, has left the association scrambling to
contain any damage it might cause to the studios' battle
MPAA president and chairman Dan Glickman and other
executives have used the 44 percent number in their arguments
to get lawmakers to enact sanctions against an education
community that has at times been reluctant to aid moviemakers'
When told of the mistake, Glickman was said to be
apoplectic and began a review of the association's
"relationship" with LEK. The MPAA also hired a third party to
review LEK's numbers for the nearly finished 2007 report.
MPAA officials pointed out that even though the number is
about one-third of the one it had been using, the piracy
problem on campuses remains huge, with the 15 percent figure
translating to losses of nearly $250 million.