I forgot to mention the Inside Higher Ed report from a few weeks ago on the MPAA’s calculation error that led them to blame university campuses for something like 44% of the motion picture industry’s domestic losses. It turns out, as the MPAA concluded, that by their calculations, that total is actually closer to 15% (PDF). Of course, these updated numbers still raise a number of questions about how the MPAA is calculating “domestic losses” in the first place, but more crucially, as Kenneth Green observes in a more recent IHE article, the real target of the MPAA seems not to be the college students themselves, but the high-speed internet connections that are standard in most university dorms. Instead of acknowledging the role of commercial broadband networks owned by Time Warner, Comcast, and others, the MPAA continues to attribute much of the blame for piracy onto college kids in their dorms (it’s worth noting, as Green does, that the MPAA’s report also relies upon a relatively limited notion of a college student, focusing primarily on on-campus residents at major universities or liberal arts colleges).
Green does a much more thorough job than I can in breaking down the problems in the MPAA’s analysis of digital piracy and of the implications of the College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007, which stipulated that universities seek solutions to combat digital piracy, so I’ll leave that to him. But, as always, I’m fascinated by the ease with which the MPAA was able to shift so much of the blame for digital piracy onto college kids when it’s relatively clear that students are far from the only group engaged in this practice.