Hollywood Employees in US Hit Hard By OutSourcing

There’s never been a shortage of press releases over the years about the MPAA blaming piracy for massive job losses. The numbers never seemed to add up given that most numbers being thrown about seemed to come from nowhere concrete. The question that does sometimes come out is, if Hollywood employees are being laid off, where are all the jobs going and why? A report that has surfaced about the state of the jobs does point to a much more plausible source for job losses – outsourcing.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

How many times have you heard things like piracy steal jobs? Numbers being pushed seemingly suggest that these numbers are more often then not completely made up. Sometimes they are based on someone’s hypothetical model, other times, there isn’t even a model these pro-copyright restriction advocates are basing it off of. Many studies that say how piracy have been debunked in the past including one particularly outrageous suggestion that one month of torrenting costs more money then the entire GDP of France from back in 2006. In fact, countless study after study have suggested that either piracy has no effect on sales or is a net benefit to sales.

So, one question that might come up for those still skeptical about any potential net benefits to piracy might be that they know of people being laid off in, say, the movie industry. If piracy is not a detriment to movie sales, why are there occasional reports that say that jobs are still being lost in North America? Turns out, one of the big problems is a problem facing pretty much every industry – outsourcing.

A report on the LATimes highlighted recently how a successful visual effects studio called Asylum Visual Effects, which was involved in the effects seen in movies like “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” and “Terminator Salvation,” was forced to shut down.

The story discusses how, in spite of getting some decent credits to their name and earning Academy Award Nomination, the studio was forced to close, laying off almost 100 workers. The cause? Foreign competition for the same work. Sometimes, it’s because of studio’s located in Vancouver Canada. Canada was an interesting source to where the jobs are going because conventional wisdom says that when the Canadian dollar rises – especially above parity like it is now – there are less incentives for the studios to tap talent from there. Other places that were blamed for job losses were London, England and the ever famous outsourcing destinations China, Singapore and India. Outsourcing is not an uncommon problem in the fields of the arts and technology. Sometimes, quick browsing through outsourcing sites like freelancer will be enough for some professionals in North America to get uneasy over their job security.

Whether or not you believe that piracy is costing jobs, it’s very hard to dismiss outsourcing as at least a cause for some firms in North America to shut down, laying off dozens or even hundreds of workers in the process. I’d say just saying piracy is a sole source for job losses is extremely disingenuous at best.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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