The Entertainment Industry Is Actually Booming, So… Why SOPA?

    January 30, 2012

That headline is a bit reductive as it should end “Why SOPA, PIPA, Bill C-11, OPEN, et al.?” but that’s what the actual article is for, right?

One of the main driving points in the entertainment industry’s support of SOPA and its various incarnations has been their claim that, allegedly, piracy is gutting the entertainment industry. To hear them, along with the government proponents aligned with them, describe the ordeal conjures up an entertainment industry as some Saint Sebastian of Hollywood, bound and beaten by the ruthless and rampant piracy of the Internet that has unforgivingly robbed them blind. It would be a pretty compelling defense against piracy, and it was obviously enough to convince at least some within the ranks of the U.S. government to support their cause.

Like I said, though, it would be a compelling defense. If it were true.

A study commissioned by the Computer and Communications Industry Association and conducted by Michael Masnick, CEO of Floor 64, investigated the economy of the entertainment industry over the past decade and found claims of plunging profits due to piracy to be a crude fabrication. Contrary to the entertainment industry’s claims of lost profits, Masnick postulated that we may actually be “living in a true Renaissance era for content.”

He continued in the report, “More money is being spent overall. Households are spending more on entertainment. And a lot more works are being created.”

Indeed, some of the figures put together by the report create a condemning rebuttal against any claim by the entertainment industry that they’re bleeding money:

  • Worldwide box office ticket revenues have increased 25%, jumping up from $25.5 billion in 2006 to $31.8 billion in 2010.
  • Overall, the entertainment industry grew 50% over the past decade.
  • In 1995, there were 1,723 feature films produced worldwide; in 2005, that number grew to 5,635; in 2009, it was 7,193.
  • The global value of the music industry rose from $132 billion to $168 billion from 2005 to 2010.
  • During the period of 1998 to 2010, the value of the worldwide entertainment industry grew from $449 billion to $745 billion.
  • Given this sample of the results (and there’s a lot more where those came from), it would appear the old adage that the entertainment industry is “recession-proof” would maintain its truth today. Masnick concurred this point in the report and wrote, “For an industry that claims to be plagued by piracy, this steadfast level of growth during the Great Recession appears to justify the boastful statements of being recession proof.”

    So if the megapowers of the entertainment industry are not bleeding money (due to their favorite boogie man, Internet piracy) but are actually rolling deep in the dough, then what are they so angry at the Internet for? I don’t see what they could possibly hope to gain from the ratification of a SOPA-like bill. It’s not like they actually care about the integrity of their work – just look at the last two decades of film in the United States. 95% of their content has been complete sir-reverence, and the past few years seem to have been dominated exclusively by remakes, sequels, and driveling offerings so bland in their creativity that they have to use books and graphic novels as their personaizedl storyboards.

    Masnick writes that, for the entertainment industry, “the evidence points to a very optimistic future” but that “it feels like much of the debate about copyright law over the past few decades has been based on claims about the state of an industry that simply don’t match up to reality.” Seriously, though, that’s a good point – why is the MPAA so willfully divorced from reality that they’re trying to convince everybody the entertainment industry is being fleeced when they’re really doing better off than probably any other industry in the United States (or world, for that matter) today? It’s like they’re one of those poor hoarders you see on The Learning Channel, hopelessly squirreling away all their copyrights for a purpose even they themselves can’t quite understand.

    I just don’t get it. Why can’t the MPAA and other leaders of the entertainment industry embrace the public’s use of their material? It’s not as if Hollywood is really hurting for money and so, if this study from Masnick and CCIA ever really breaches the surface of the mainstream, it’ll be interesting to watch if the entertainment industry sticks to their blanks-firing pistols or if they’ll resort to another fabricated excuse to justify their greed.

    We just want to participate in the culture we live in, MPAA – a culture that you have helped foster around us. For the most part, you’ve helped create a rather crummy culture, but still, we’re here to play around in it and you get to stay rich. Everybody wins. So why does that make you so mad?