For long, the argument cited against piracy has been that it essentially takes away the ‘rightful’ dollars of the content industry. Carnegie Mellon’s Initiative for Digital Entertainment Analytics has now shown that the take-down of MegaUpload last year has resulted in a significant surge in movie sales and rentals. We, naturally, have our contentions with those conclusions.
The scope of the report includes the uptick in the rentals and sales of two major movie studios. The results were based on the users from 12 different countries. What the report states is that after the MegaUpload shuttering, the movie revenue of the studios increased from between 6% and 10%. The numbers are impressive indeed.
Translating those percentages into actual numbers, the Carnegie Mellon study cites that the weekly digital sales of the two studios increased between 10,500 and 15,300 units. The number of rentals being purchased by users experienced a surge of between 13,700 and 24,000 units a week.
Those numbers do look pretty and naturally, we have no doubt the studios were eager to register these ‘positive’ growths. But the big question is, what would be the normal growth rate for these studies had MegaUpload not been shuttered? A fair comparison between that ‘normal’ growth and this ‘extra-ordinary’ growth would make things clearer.
At the same time, let’s not forget what multiple studies before the Carnegie Mellon study have found out: that piracy has mostly resulted in increased sales of movie titles and music albums. The titles which are often shared on piracy and file-sharing sites are the ones which gain instant recognition and, in turn, better sales.
Moreover, some very well-reputed studies have found that online pirates are more 10 times more likely to legally purchase music online than the non-pirates. That is a critical point to ponder for the content industry. So, while the Carnegie Mellon study may have observed a healthy growth in sales for the movie studios, we seriously doubt that shutting down piracy sites would do the content industry any good.