MPAA flunks its college math

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The movie 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 MPAA "incorrectly concluded that 44% 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% of industry's domestic losses came from college students, he said.

LEK, the firm 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 against piracy.

MPAA president and chairman Dan Glickman and other executives have used the 44% number in their arguments to get lawmakers to enact sanctions against an education community that has at times been reluctant to aide moviemakers' anti-piracy crusade.

MPAA officials said the piracy problem on campus remains huge, with nearly $250 million in losses attributable at the 15% number.
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