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We’ve been talking a lot lately about Hollywood’s crusade to restrict free speech as a way of protecting their bottom line against piracy. Organizations like the MPAA claim that rampant illegal downloading and the rise of new technologies are so damaging to their industry that they can’t survive without sweeping changes (like the ones proposed by SOPA) giving them more power over your daily life. What no one really talks much about is whether any of what they’re saying is true.
On the surface it might seem to be true. Last year Hollywood’s ticket sales sunk to unprecedented lows. But is that really because of piracy? Or maybe we should be asking are they really losing money? Because as it turns out, despite statistics like that one, they are not.
In fact the opposite is true. Over the course of the past decade, the same decade which Hollywood claims has destroyed their industry as new technologies make easy access to their content possible, the entertainment industry grew 50% and the average consumer increased the amount of money he spends on entertainment. Here’s the data, in handy infographic form from Techdirt.
Last year Hollywood sold fewer movie tickets in the United States than it has since 1995, but piracy didn’t suddenly kick in last year. Actually most would agree that piracy was really at its peak long before that, and with the advent of outlets like Netflix Instant Watch in 2011 it was mostly on the downswing. During the decade when piracy was the biggest threat to the Entertainment industry’s bottom line… they made more money than ever. Not just in the United States, but worldwide. People are spending more money on movies, books, video games, and all kinds of content consumption than they ever have in all of Earth’s history.
Piracy? The data says it’s not a problem. Maybe it’s time everyone stopped listening to the MPAA.