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Researchers Find Megaupload Shutdown Hurt Box Office Revenues 203

An anonymous reader writes "We've heard this one before, over and over again: pirates are the biggest spenders. It therefore shouldn't surprise too many people to learn that shutting down Megaupload earlier this year had a negative effect on box office revenues. The latest finding comes from a paper titled: 'Piracy and Movie Revenues: Evidence from Megaupload.'"
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Researchers Find Megaupload Shutdown Hurt Box Office Revenues

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  • by wvmarle ( 1070040 ) on Sunday November 25, 2012 @02:06PM (#42088021)

    The actual conclusion of the researchers was:

    We find that the shutdown had a negative, yet insignificant effect on box office revenues.

    (emphasis mine)

    So basically there was basically no effect either way on overall box office revenues. Blockbusters gained from the shutdown of megaupload (probably due to more people forced to go see it in the theatres as they couldn't download it any more), many smaller and less well known movies lost (probably due to less people being able to preview the movie, resulting in less word-of-mouth promotion of a movie).

    Interesting results anyway.

  • Good and Bad (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bigbutt ( 65939 ) on Sunday November 25, 2012 @02:10PM (#42088069) Homepage Journal

    Apparently the smaller films were negatively affected by the shutdown of the site (made less money). The larger films (500 or more screens) were positively affected by the shut down (made more money).

    Box office revenues of movies shown on the average number of screens and below were affected negatively, but the total effect is not statistically significant. For blockbusters (shown on more than 500 screens) the sign is positive (and significant, depending on the specification).


  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 25, 2012 @02:13PM (#42088099)

    I don't think that anybody is denying that they were hosting pirated content. However, this does in no way prove or indicate that the majority of the content was pirated content, it just proves there was some.

  • Re:Shallow research (Score:4, Informative)

    by Ksevio ( 865461 ) on Sunday November 25, 2012 @02:28PM (#42088195) Homepage
    It looks like the control group was big name movies that people would go to see with friends no matter what happened on the Internet. I guess the theory is people will have heard of them so the social aspect of sharing movies online wouldn't affect them, but at the same time the people who share the movies and watch them either don't go to movies at all, or will still go to a big name movie with their friends.
  • Re:Really? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Pentium100 ( 1240090 ) on Sunday November 25, 2012 @03:06PM (#42088407)

    Alternative explanations:

    It could be that new music is mostly crap - I rarely buy new releases, but I have a relatively big collection of older records and I still buy "new to me" records. I also do not buy "remastered" versions with the dynamic range squashed to almost zero.

    It could also be that people are only buying one copy of a song, instead of buying the CD/record for their home and a cassette for their walkman/car they now buy the file and play it everywhere. Also, files can be backed up easier than records or tapes, so the need to buy them again in case of damage is reduced.

    There is also the fact that iTunes and similar services sell single songs, not albums, which means that I can buy only the good songs for ~$1/each instead of buying the album (with one good and 10 mediocre songs) for $11 (to keep the song price the same) or more. Even a CD "single" usually contains remixes of the original song which I pay for when I buy that CD, but now I can just buy the original song.

    There's also Youtube. With their content filters I would expect that if the video has survived for a year and got a low of view that the copyright owner approved of it (since otherwise it would be taken down). Yet, I can find a lot of music there for free.

  • incorrect quote (Score:5, Informative)

    by almechist ( 1366403 ) on Sunday November 25, 2012 @03:11PM (#42088431)

    The actual conclusion of the researchers was:

    We find that the shutdown had a negative, yet insignificant effect on box office revenues.

    You have misquoted the article, leaving out an important qualifier. The true quote actually reads:

    "we find that the shutdown had a negative, yet in some cases insignificant effect on box office revenues.”

    I need hardly add that this is not a trivial distinction. Assuming you used copy and paste for the quote, you must have then deliberately removed the text reading "in some cases" before you posted. Why exactly would anyone do this, except to change the meaning of the quote, however slightly?

  • by xigxag ( 167441 ) on Sunday November 25, 2012 @04:03PM (#42088677)

    Where to begin, even.

    First, who are "the pirates"?

    Second, where are they, as a class, saying that Megaupload was mostly used for non-piracy related files?

    Third and most importantly, you're spouting nonsense from a logical perspective. YouTube hosts LOTS of cat videos, maybe enough even to influence the number of cat purchases by animal lovers. That doesn't mean that YouTube mainly hosts cat videos. Who knows? Maybe it's 75% meow-infested, or maybe cat videos are less than 1% what's being hosted. THERE'S NO WAY TO TELL, just going on the fact (for argument's sake) that the number of YouTube hosted cat videos is enough to influence the pet industry. Similarly, there's no way to tell, just based upon Megaupload's influence on the box office, if movies were a major component of Megaupload's offerings.

    Fourth, hosted and downloaded are two different things. It's entirely possible that by number of files hosted, pirated music and movies are a small component, but going by the number of downloads, they are the lion's share. After all, you might only need to share a particular powerpoint presentation a few times, but a bootleg media file could get downloaded tens of thousands of times. Or it could be that most uploads are not unauthorized, most downloads are not unauthorized, but the ones that are make up the vast majority of Megaupload's bandwidth. So, in that case, is Megaupload mostly used for piracy or not? Depends on your point of view.

    Bottom line, the assertions you are claiming are contradictory really aren't.

  • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Sunday November 25, 2012 @04:09PM (#42088721) Homepage Journal

    If Megaupload did hurt box office sales, then they obviously hosted lots of pirated material.

    You seem to have trouble with reading comprehension, as do the moderators (your sock puppets? I can't believe you're not -1 overrated since you obviously don't read well).

    The study said exactly the OPPOSITE. Megaupload didn't hurt box office receipts, it helped them. Shutting the site down hurt receipts.

    Maybe you and the mods need a remedial reading class? Well, maybe the mods thought your lack of reading comprehension was interesting... but you have no excuse.

The only possible interpretation of any research whatever in the `social sciences' is: some do, some don't. -- Ernest Rutherford