January 18, 2012, 5:21 PM — No one disputes very seriously that there is a lot of content piracy going on, especially online.
The hip-but-surprisingly hidebound music industry lost it's booty during the late '90s and early 00s after Napster, KaZaa, LimeWire, Morpheus and half a dozen other fixed and P2P ad hoc file-sharing networks turned music appreciation into an all-you-can eat buffet rather than the budget-busting one-course tapas restaurant it had been when music publishers controlled both price and distribution.
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The movie business didn't take quite as big a hit, mainly because its distribution people spent more time looking for new sources of revenue and venues for their products, rather than trying to hunt down every potential customer who'd ever used the product for free, as the music business' RIAA copyright-enforcement thugs did.
The movie business never got in as much trouble as the music business, largely because it was able to find lots of other outlets through which to sell movies – cable TV, Netflix and other online services, ISPs, hotel-TV-movie services, Blockbuster, Red Box, yada, yada.
Still, the numbers quoted by both music and movie companies and their lobbyists are not only unrealistic, they're almost impossible, completely indefensible and based on three major government studies that may never have existed in the first place, according to Julian Sanchez, research fellow at the conservative Cato Institute, who has analyzed and written about the loss-estimates several times.
For years the entertainment industry has cried poor mouth on the whole piracy issue by citing government studies estimating pirated content costs the U.S. between $200 billion and $250 billion per year in revenue and kills 750,000 jobs.
Except, Sanchez found while trying to verify the numbers, the studies from which those numbers came can't be found even by the government agencies that first cited them and may never have existed at all.