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back to article Study: Megaupload closure boosted Hollywood sales 10%

A new study claims that the revenues of two anonymous Hollywood studios rose between 6 to 10 per cent in countries where digital sales are available, after the cyberlocker site Megaupload was shut down. "Our analysis shows that the shutdown of a major online piracy site can increase digital media sales, and by extension we …

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I smell fudge!

The study adjusted its figures to account for ... the wishes of the people paying the bills.

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Re: I smell fudge!

And of course, the companies' marketing efforts over the holiday period had no effect on sales whatever.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I smell fudge!

I have worked in Market Research, and my experience is that the only *real* research done is to determine what result the client wants. The figures are then manipulated to get the desired result, to ensure repeat business from the client.

One keen graduate of my aquaintance was so disturbed by this practice, that she went back to college to study furniture making.

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Re: I smell fudge!

Not a fudge just a minor manipulation of figures to get the answer they desire

In common parlance it's called 'being fixed'.

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And how long did the change last?

If I have a car and one day it breaks down, I'm likely to accept the inconvenience of two or three buses. If there were no such thing as cars then I would have put more effort into arranging my life so that I didn't have to catch two or three buses to get to work.

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So not quite...

The level the MPAA suggested then - http://www.ted.com/talks/rob_reid_the_8_billion_ipod.html

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Adjusted to account for Christmas, fine, but were they adjusted to account for the general upward trend in those markets anyway? As more people switch from physical to digital, what were the upward percentages in the months surrounding the shutdown?

As usual with the MPAA, I'm doubting this is the entire story. Likely cherry-picked to justify their heavy-handed tactics.

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I agree. I didn't read the study, but me thinks that the context of the data may have not have been thoroughly thought out (The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver talks about this sort of crap) and without good contextual analysis of the data it is just an example of post hoc ergo propter hoc.

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Pirate

I bet...

...that the poor 'reliability' of the DVD sales figures [huh?] which resulted in them not being calculated, actually means that DVD unit sales were down by approximately [exactly] the amount that digital unit sales increased by.

The cherry-picking will be the selection of regions/markets where there was a pre-existing trend away from physical sales to on-line.

Meh, hopefully the 'research' will be released, and it'll give Dotcom yet another cause-of-action to be eventually taken up against the publisher-robber-barons.

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the data for physical media was deemed "less reliable".

So what they mean is that if they included the physical media then total sales were down as Megaupload and such sites encourage people to go for downloads as they don't have to rip the files themselves to watch them on their PC/tablet/phone.

Of course that is just my theory which will gain no media headlines as I am not running a famous (but anonymous) film studio which just happens to spend lots of money buying advertising space in all the various media formats.

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Utter Beaver Tail

So the department doing the "research" was set up by the MPAA. It then publishes results that the studios are negatively impacted by a notorious cloud storage host.

Next up - Sex sells. More at 11.

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WTF?

Right... Anonymous studios...

That probably wasn't Disney and Universal.

I think more the likes of Kluckenwurtz Films, an Alabama studio specialized in documentaries of bluebottle mating rites on local dungpiles and Inuit Flesh Flix Inc. , founded in December 2012 . . .

To use the word "proof" (even with a qualifier) in a study where no direct correlation is established is (in my opinion) nonsense anyway.

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Re: Right... Anonymous studios...

@Andreas Koch: Upvoted for being both funny and right.

"[...] and that the anonymous studios providing the sales data had no editorial control "

Right! Other than completely fabricating the sales data, that is.

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Meh

From the Abstract

"Controlling for country-specific trends and the Christmas holiday, we find no statistical relationship between Megaupload penetration and changes in digital sales *prior* to the shutdown. However, we find a statistically significant positive relationship between a country’s Megaupload penetration and its sales change after the shutdown..." [Note: *Emphasis* is mine]

So the number of Megaupload users in an area had no measurable impact on digital sales/rentals *while it was operating* but shutting it down pushed sales up? Maybe I don't understand the math here, but to me that implies any change is just coincidental rather than causal.

The only real issue I have with this study is that there simply isn't enough data; a 9 month window (September 2011 to May 2012) isn't a big enough sample. You really need two or three years of data tracking both legal and illegal downloads to reach a meaningful conclusion IMHO.

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Happy

Re: From the Abstract

I agree with you completely. Unfortunately I read the whole thing, and these guys sure can massage numbers. Overall the only positive thing I have to say is a least the study wasn't behind a pay-wall,:)

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Meh

Re: From the Abstract

That is not what that means. It means that people WERE willing to pay for the content if they couldn't get it for free.

A nine month window in financial/sales reporting is plenty large enough to see a given impact. The trick is to positively identify the cause of the results. They don't seem to have done that very well here. Too many variables unaccounted for.

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Facepalm

Not to mention the actual movies themselves that provided that 10%

So what happens if those studios had crap movie after crap movie and then managed to get a half decent movie out the door? Would that change anything? You be your ass it would. Biased shill study is biased.

In 2005 there was a studio called Franchise Pictures that excreted a movie called "A Sound Of Thunder" that resulted in a 97.6% loss. Film budget = $80mil and it made $1.9mil.

I bet that was the fault of those nasty file sharers. Those feckers.

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Unhappy

That lot are so full of lies unfortunate mistakes and fraud creative accounting that if they told me the sky was blue, I'd feel I need to have a good look to see what colour it really was.

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Boffin

it's the truth guvna

but the sky is violet but your human eyes just cant see it

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Megaupload weren't even in the top 20 of piracy choices at the time they went down. They might have been good for 5% several years before, before they got all wanky and laden with javascript.. 5% is purest fiction. Sounds more like MPAA (etc.) statistics rather than even an approximation of science. The 8 billion iPod etc.

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Any bets that despite that 10% bump...

..thestudios still didn't quite make enough money to pay anyone any royalties?

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120531/07313919143/darth-vader-is-most-successful-star-wars-character-ever-still-no-return-jedi-residuals-actor.shtml

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Pint

Re: Any bets that despite that 10% bump...

That's not the fault of the Studios. Their original intention was that the UN General Assembly hold their breath until they turned blue and Kim strapped the servers to his back and swam to the United States to beg forgiveness after walking 1800 miles to some place in Kansas, I think. The plan was to auction the servers off to Amazonian Tribes which although as yet undiscovered probably owned sufficient Electricity Trees ...

See ? Not their fault.

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statistics 101

Correlation does not imply causation.

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Re: statistics 101

In Hollywood, they call that a Paternity Test.

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Mushroom

Our sales are up 10%...

...so we are perfectly justified having hundreds of thousands of users locked out of their legitimate archives to preserve our profits.

Nuke because the takedown was a WEE bit heavy handed.

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The many legitimate online media sites

Where are they? BigPond Movies, a collection of 50 of the most mediocre movies of each genre. And.. no, there's no and, that's about it.

Besides who are these people who've never heard of the Pirate Bay, and went legit?

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Meh

Ultraviolet?

Was this not around the time ultraviolet started to ramp up?

I've got a few Blu-Rays at home with "ultraviolet" digital versions of the movie (which I've never bothered with, as my PC doesn't have a Blu-Ray drive and it's easier/preferable to visit pirate bay for a digital copy of my legally acquired movie than give all my private info to a movie studio) and these seem to have become prevalent around the same time as mega went down - do these "physical - digital" copies count in the study? simply bundling a digital copy with the physical copy could easily account for a bump in "digital sales".

With all this MPAA FUD floating around, I think it's time El Reg implemented a "sceptic" icon...

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Re: Ultraviolet?

I could see them counting the digital copy thing.

I've tried using them twice. Had trouble with the code both times, the one that I got to work looked like a VCD.

Most of the time they have expired when I get around to buying the disc anyway. I'll just rip my own copy thank you.

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Anonymous Coward

FFS

Freetards go on about "if it is easier to do X, people will do X". So closing megaupload made it harder for them to find stuff. Some of the freetards got fed up with that and actually bought the product instead. Which part of this is hard to understand? That people, if they can't find it for free, might actually pay for something?

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... or maybe ...

Perhaps the movies produced in 2011/12 were less shit and people went to watch them.

Perhaps people are less freaked about the GFC and are spending money again?

Or maybe they really are right.

The only way to tell would really be to turn megaupload on/off for a year at a time and see if the Hollywood sales also follow the square wave pattern.

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Re: Perhaps the movies produced in 2011/12 were less shit

My immediate thought. 2012 was a particularly good year for movies. The Avengers, Dark Knight, Skyfall, and there were lots of other popular movies. There was a definite improvement in the quality of movies after mega upload closed.

(Did they chose the time to gt it closed it carefully, to produce these results?)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Perhaps the movies produced in 2011/12 were less shit

Skyfall was the worst bond movie I've seen in quite some time, perhaps not as bad as moonraker, but it was knocking on its door.

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Hmmm

How exactly was the causality of these events determined...? I doubt the sales increase was entirely down to the closure of megaupload, that would imply there are millions of pirates unaware there are other places to download copyrighted content other than megaupload!

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Facepalm

Releases

Anyone looked at the movie releases on DVD / Electronic formats for the period of the analysis? Without knowing the studios involved in the study it could be a release of say.. Oh, I don't know, a movie kids and teens would go berserk for which influenced the figures, I mean it's not as if twilight, breaking dawn part 1 was released during the post shutdown study which may have influenced things, or MI: Ghost Protocol, perhaps War Horse... Those would be completely coincidental and couldn't influence the numbers at all, it MUST be the result of shutting down a file host.

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Holmes

Irony is that if they halved the price of their overpriced movie DVD's etc, then they might have 50-100% better sales.

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Anonymous Coward

Yet for non Hollywood movies...

The oh-so-unbiased-that-we-have-to-tell-you-its-unbiased survey omits to mention how Megaupload's closure harmed independent movie revenues:

<a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2012/nov/30/entertainment/la-et-ct-mpaa-blog-20121130">test</a>

Funny that.

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Anonymous Coward

obfuscation

"The academics were keen to stress that the study wasn't funded by the MPAA, and that the anonymous studios providing the sales data had no editorial control – but it's worth noting that IDEA itself was created last year with funds provided by the MPAA"

Says it all. The whole world is bloody coprrupted by money.

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Yag
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Darell Huff's "How to Lie with Statistics"...

An almost 60 years old book, still useful and accurate as hell.

The final chapter, giving some giveaway methods, tells that...

"the method may be direct misstatement or it may be ambiguous" -> anonymous studios...

"selection of favourable data and suppression of unfavourable" -> Only two studio, and physical media sales labelled as "not relevant"

"practice of using one year for one comparison and sliding over to a more favorable year for another" -> again, depend of what was out of those 2 studios.

"Use of OK names" : Carnegie Mellon University.

"A correlation given without a measure of reliability (probable error, standard error) is not to be taken very seriously" -> To be confirmed, can't check the paper from my office...

"Given percentages and missing raw figures" -> checked again.

And so on...

A very interesting read if you're into manipulation - even if most examples are a bit outdated.

Perhaps they should also discover a link between megaupload and the unemployment rate, or between abortion and criminality... (yes, it's a deliberate poke)

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Thumb Up

Yag is right. Everyone should read "How To Lie With Statistics"

Daryl Huff's book "How To lie With Statistics" is excellent on these very points. it's an enlightening and very funny book. I think it's about seven quid on Amazon. Other book retailers exist.

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WTF?

My grandmother died after they shut down Megaupload

So shutting it down killed her! Killed her I tell you!

I am soooo going to sue for this.

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Re: My grandmother died after they shut down Megaupload

Neither of mine did, so, by MPAAstatisticsing the data, out of the 2 applicable grandmas, neither was affected by the Megaupload shutdown,

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"Empirical proof"

Has this always meant "taking dodgy data, cherry picking it, cherry picking it again, and then coming up with a weak correlation, and not even providing confidence intervals", or is that a new development?

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FAIL

This isn't just number manipulation...

This is like saying 'The Pirate Bay was blocked by Virgin so piracy is at an all time low'.

It's just plain bollocks!

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