Why Hollywood Is Suddenly Marveling Over Piracy Studies

Chris Dodd - Lawmakers Seek Update From "Overwhelmed" Regulators - 2010
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'Tis the season for piracy research.

The latest is an MPAA-commissioned study that looks at the role search engines play in leading consumers toward copyright-infringing works. The film industry's trade association highlights that 74 percent of consumers surveyed say that a search engine was used to bring them for the first time to a site with infringing content. And it doesn't take much search engine wizardry to get there: 58 percent of searches with general keywords like recent film and TV titles lead to infringing content, it's reported.

Of special note is the MPAA's finger on Google. The study says that 82 percent of search queries that lead to URLs with infringing content come from Google. The MPAA also noted that "the study found no evidence that the change Google made to its algorithm last year to take into account the number of copyright takedown notices a site has received had an impact on search-referred traffic to infringing sites."

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The release of this search engine study follows more marveling at numbers from the industry.

On Tuesday, there was an NBCUniversal-commissioned study from NetNames that is reported to have found that Internet-based piracy continues to grow at a rapid pace, with infringing bandwidth growing by 159.3 percent between 2010 and 2012. Then there was the release on Monday of a research paper from the Phoenix Center that examined last month's study from researchers at the University of Munich and the Copenhagen Business School. A conclusion that "piracy helps box office sales" was knocked, and the MPAA is touting it.

The arms race of pie graphs and percent symbols may be doing more than providing job stimulus for researchers. This week, a U.S. House of Representatives judiciary subcommittee examines "the role of voluntary agreements in the U.S. intellectual property system."

A press release issued by the MPAA notes that chairman Chris Dodd is on Capitol Hill today to announce the study's findings.

The subtext of the study's release is hardly subtext.

The MPAA's press release also carries a quote from Rep. Adam Schiff, "For years, I have been making the case that responsible players in the Internet ecosystem -- from payment processors to advertisers to ISPs -- have a responsibility and a self-interest to take voluntary good-faith steps against rampant online piracy."

E-mail: Eriq.Gardner@THR.com
Twitter: @eriqgardner