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Why the MPAA and RIAA can't stand college students

The MPAA has admitted to using faulty statistics to vilify college students--and as Don Reisinger explains, the organization's distaste for college students runs deep.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
3 min read

According to a recent report from the Associated Press, the Motion Picture Association of America--Hollywood's antipiracy wing--admitted to releasing data that was not only factually incorrect, it grossly overstated the impact college students have on the movie industry's losses.

The MPAA claims its original figure citing a 44 percent loss due to college piracy was inflated by a whopping 29 percent. In fact, the MPAA admitted that the actual impact college students have on the industry's revenue loss is just 15 percent.

"The 44 percent figure was used to show that if college campuses could somehow solve this problem on this campus, then it would make a tremendous difference in the business of the motion picture industry," an expert covering the case said. The new figures prove "any solution on campus will have only a small impact on the industry itself."

So why do the MPAA and the Recording Industry Association of America focus so much of their time on college students? Is there something that these disgusting organizations aren't telling us? Are college students really that bad? Sadly, it's just another example of these organizations trying to vilify the easy target when the real violators are left to roam free.

The main reason the RIAA and MPAA can't stand college students is actually quite simple--they're the easiest target. How many times have you heard organizations blame so many of the world's problems on the 18 to 25 crowd? A quick history lesson on what happened in the '70s should be enough to satisfy that assertion.

Let's face it: The 18 to 25 crowd represents change and innovation. It represents a new way of thinking and the condemnation of the old guard. And it's the old institutions like the movie and music industries that can't seem to grasp that the change that's occurring--the right to own your own digital media after purchasing it--is a rogue tidal wave that will eventually lead to their demise.

Sadly, the MPAA and RIAA just don't like college students. In fact, why would they? After all, isn't this the group that, according to RIAA spokeswoman Cara Duckworth, "has reached a stage in life when their music habits are crystallized, and their appreciation for intellectual property has not yet reached its full development"?

I simply don't understand these organizations. Instead of being the bastions of progress in an age where everyone can see that a change is coming, the RIAA and MPAA have decided to insult college students and cite faulty statistics to back up their ludicrous claims.

Why haven't these organizations focused on the real pirates who cruise in gunships overseas and account for well over 15 percent of that revenue loss the MPAA is so quick to mention? Even better, why doesn't the MPAA realize that the 15 percent loss is nothing compared with the incredible box-office losses it's incurring because of crappy movies and skyrocketing ticket prices?

College students represent change, innovation and a new way of thinking. The MPAA and the RIAA represent two industries that would like nothing more than to go back to the days of no video media and vinyl--their comfort zones.

Unfortunately for them, that simply won't happen. Realizing this, both organizations made a conscious decision to vilify college students in the hopes the rest of us would jump onboard. We didn't.

The MPAA and the RIAA are two organizations that should be looked upon with the greatest amount of distaste and downright condemnation. Trust me, they're really that bad.