Years ago, I founded the company that built the Rhapsody music service. I recently gave a brief talk about certain music and movie industry claims that really bug me (see video, below). Some say that I might have come off as being ... a bit sarcastic? And they may have a point. But the numbers behind my talk all came from actual research, performed by an actual Copyright Mathematician (me, that is). Check out my talk, and if you'd like to know where my numbers came from, read on (I'll also explain the part about the aliens. There's quite a story behind that).
The Motion Picture Association's claims of $58 billion in actual US economic losses and 373,000 lost jobs came from this press release. These numbers originated at a think tank called the "Institute for Policy Innovation" -- an organization that Businessweek once profiled in an article called "Op-Eds for Sale." In it, an IPI analyst freely admitted to taking payoffs from disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff in exchange for writing "op-ed pieces boosting the lobbyist's clients." The IPI's president supported this behavior, saying it was neither wrong nor unethical, and dismissing those who apply "a naïve purity standard" to the business of writing op-eds.
Watch Rob Reid's $8 Billion iPod Talk
This doesn't necessarily mean that MPAA lobbyists paid the IPI to conjure up these numbers. But good luck finding evidence of $58 billion actually vanishing from the economy. Credible data provided by the Recording Industry Association of America, indicate that American music sales have dropped by about $8 billion since Napster's debut. If we assume that every penny of that drop is wholly attributable to