Crime Inc. Inc.

Growing up in Chicago in the 1970s and 1980s, I have fond memories of watching Bill Kurtis on Channel 2 news. He was sort of a local Walter Cronkite–a personification of the news. At our house, he was on every night.

So I felt some nostalgia when I got a call from a staffer on Kurtis’ current show, Crime Inc., about an episode they wanted to do on media piracy. And also some apprehension, since we’ve been pretty adamant in our work that criminality–and especially organized crime–is the wrong way to look at piracy. But since I’m a regular complainer about press coverage of these issues and an optimist that the debate can be changed, I agreed to help. Continue reading “Crime Inc. Inc.”

The MPAA in Latin America

Frederic Martel’s Mainstream (2010) is a very rich account of Hollywood’s (and America’s) global cultural dominance, based on a huge quantity of original research and reporting.  Unfortunately, it hasn’t been translated into English (from French–it should be!).

Among many other things, Martel provides interesting detail on the global lobbying and enforcement practices of Hollywood–a subject we treat in our Media Piracy report.  You get a clear sense from Martel just how good these guys have been at their jobs, mixing product and politics, working the domestic and international angles simultaneously, and always cultivating the powerful.  Chris Dodd’s public threats, post SOPA, reflect how unusual it is for them to lose.  Here’s Martel on the history of MPAA lobbying in Brazil and Mexico, cobbled together from pp 28-32. Translation mine. MPA, btw, is what the MPAA calls itself outside the US.


In Brazil, the MPA’s top guy is Steve Solot. From Rio de Janeiro, he coordinates the studios’ business across Latin America. Solot explains: “For the MPAA, South America doesn’t count in terms of box-office, but it’s more and more important in terms of influence and number of tickets sold. American films take over 80% of Brazilian box office receipts. And even for the remaining 20%, you have to remember that many Brazilian films are co-produced with the Americans. Overall, it’s over 85%.” …

Continue reading “The MPAA in Latin America”

Overinstaller Awareness Day

Among other things, today is BSA Day–the day on which the Business Software Alliance releases its annual Global Software Piracy Study.  This year, like every year, the release involves pronouncements about how much the software industry suffers at the hands of software pirates, especially in the developing world.  Here’s BSA president Robert Holleyman from this year’s press release:

The software industry is being robbed blind,” said BSA President and CEO Robert Holleyman. “Nearly $59 billion worth of products were stolen last year — and the rates of theft are completely out of control in the world’s fastest-growing markets. The irony is people everywhere value intellectual property rights, but in many cases they don’t understand they are getting their software illegally.

Now, continuing the reforms it introduced last year, the BSA calls these numbers theft and piracy, but studiously avoids describing them as ‘losses’ to industry.   Continue reading “Overinstaller Awareness Day”

Organized Crime: Businessweek edition

(updated, April 9)

Sigh. I can see that engaging in this debate about organized crime and piracy means having to shoot down the same stuff  over and over.  You can look here if you want a detailed version of our take on organized crime and here for a more tongue-in-cheek version.  But to the business at hand: I was dismayed to read the recitation of industry talking points on the subject in this recent Businessweek story by Mike White.  This irks me in part because White interviewed me and I walked him through all the problems with the inflated claims.  Yet, here they are again.  That’s his prerogative, I suppose.  Here’s mine. Continue reading “Organized Crime: Businessweek edition”

MPEE Mailbag: Career Options

We get mail:

Dear MPEE,

I’m a former banker fallen on hard times and am looking for a new line of work.  I have read in the IIPA report that “the mark-up for DVD piracy (a relatively low-risk activity) is much higher than that for cocaine and heroine trafficking,” and also read in your report that enforcement doesn’t work, which is an important issue for me.  This sounds like an interesting opportunity, and I wanted to ask your advice about career options in this area.  Continue reading “MPEE Mailbag: Career Options”