Mar 25, 2013
Carnegie Mellon University’s Initiative for Digital Entertainment Analytics (IDEA), led by H. John Heinz III College professors Michael D. Smith and Rahul Telang, recently published a study on the impact on digital movie sales following the January 2013 shutdown of Megaupload.com. The study, which found that there was an increase of movie sales after the shutdown of the media-sharing site, has received global attention as people continue to debate the rise and impact of piracy in the entertainment industry.
The study, which was co-authored by Smith and Brett Danaher, has been mentioned in 37 different publications, from Variety to the Wall Street Journal, since its release.
“It’s been amazing,” said Smith, “but I have to learn not to read the comments sections of these articles online.”
So far, the only backlash directed at the study has come from former users of Megaupload. Studios and content creators, on the other hand, have been extremely responsive to the study and its findings.
“We did a study a few years ago on iTunes and piracy, which found that if you shut down iTunes, piracy would increase dramatically,” continued Smith. “That study, along with the new one, go hand in hand. If shutting down the largest digital sales channel on the Internet increases piracy, it should be pretty easy to accept that shutting down the largest piracy site on the Internet will increase digital sales.”
Some of the online criticism also stems from the fact that IDEA has received funding from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) in order to perform its research. While some feel that the MPAA’s support is what generated the findings of the study, Smith is quick to point out the inaccuracy of those opinions.
“We received an unrestricted gift from the MPAA,” said Smith. “There are no restrictions on how we use the money, we are the ultimate deciders on what facets of digital entertainment we want to study, and we have total editorial control over the results.”
“We analyzed the shutdown of Megaupload simply because it’s interesting to us.”
Read additional coverage on IDEA's study:
Interested in supporting Heinz College students and initiatives like those featured in this story? Click here for more information.