Records Fall As UK Movie Industry Profits Soar

It’s not a well kept secret, but it is facts like this that copyright holders would rather keep quiet when discussing online piracy. This isn’t the first time movies rake in record breaking profits while the industry argues that the industry is facing total collapse due to unauthorized downloading, but one more reminder wouldn’t hurt.

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

It’s that tired old argument the movie industry uses over and over again to justify overly strict copyright laws – piracy is killing the movie industry and it needs to be stopped or else the movie industry will collapse. Studies bought by the industry try and say they are losing billions in profits, but those billions really wind up being a made-up statistic or a guesstimation a lot since it’s based on the premise of one download means one lost sale which has been proven repeatedly to be a flawed argument.

Industry execs might say, “Well, if the industry isn’t doing so bad, where are the headlines that say the industry is doing well?” We can most certainly help with that. You can find those headlines here, here, here, and, for good measure, here and here.

So what’s the story like in other countries like, say, the UK? Turns out, it’s the same story, different country. Techdirt points to a very interesting page from the UK Film Council which has the following information:

– UK film grossed $2 billion at the worldwide box office last year;
– UK box-office takings are at record-breaking levels, worth £944 million in the UK in 2009, up 62% from 2000;
– The overall territory box office gross for the UK and the Republic of Ireland exceeded £1 billion for the first time in 2009;
– UK Film Council investments in British films have been hugely successful — for every £1 we have invested, £5 has been generated at the box office;
– Over 173.5 million people went to the cinema in the UK in 2009 — up 31 million from 2000, the highest since 2002 and the second highest since 1971;

Not exactly the ailing industry being killed by file-sharing. All this on top of a posting earlier this month by the the Cinema Exhibitors Association Ltd which claims, “In 2009, financial losses to the cinema industry due to copyright theft were estimated to be around £144m. That equates to over 15 per cent of box office, or some 26 million attendances”

So, let me get this straight, the UK film industry broke revenue records by posting an astounding £944 million at the box office, up 62% from 2000, and without skipping a beat, complain that their industry is dying due to an alleged estimated £144 million loss (no doubt derived from the flawed logic of one download means one lost sale). Somehow, out of all of this, are we suppose to be sympathetic for the industry over money? Forgive me for thinking that something doesn’t really add up – especially when it’s the same industry that is begging lawmakers to pass overly restrictive laws such as a three strikes law in the UK which most people feel is too strict to begin with. Personally, I really don’t feel sorry for them on this front.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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