Notorious cyberlocker Megaupload was shuttered on January 19, 2012 and a pair of U.S. researchers says that in the 18 weeks following, there was a 6-10% increase in digital movie revenues across 12 countries. Using data from two anonymous Hollywood majors, the academics put together a just-released study titled: Gone In 60 Seconds: The Impact Of The Megaupload Shutdown On Movie Sales. The findings are based on online rentals and purchases in the U.S., the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, Mexico, Austria, Ireland and Canada. The researchers notably found that in those territories where pre-shutdown usage was higher – like Spain – there were larger increases in digital sales and rentals post-shutdown. They estimate that across the two studios, 18 weeks and 12 countries, weekly rental units increased by 13,700 to 24,000 due to the Megaupload shutdown and that weekly digital sales units jumped 10,500 to 15,300. “We conclude that shutting down Megaupload and [sister site] Megavideo caused some customers to shift from cyberlocker-based piracy to purchasing or renting through legal digital channels,” said Wellesley assistant professor of economics Brett Danaher and Carnegie Mellon professor of information technology and marketing Michael D. Smith, who conducted the study. Smith is also co-director of the Initiative for Digital Entertainment Analytics at Carnegie Mellon which was created late last year through an unrestricted gift from the MPAA. However, Smith tells me that no MPAA money was used for this research project. Megaupload’s brainchild, Kim Dotcom, meanwhile is in New Zealand fighting extradition to the U.S.
Jackie Chan Ridiculed In Hong Kong For Pro-China Stance
Hong Kong action icon Jackie Chan faces a backlash in his hometown for joining China’s top political advisory body. Hong Kong remains suspicious of the mainland and many believe Chan was selected to appear at the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference because of his visibility. Professor Sonny Ho, co-director at the Centre for Greater China Studies, describes the conference’s “united front” strategy as a campaign to promote a strong and peaceful homeland, unified with Taiwan. China’s growing clout has seen actors from Hong Kong and Macau drafted into patriotic movies that glorify the country’s past including the early Communist Party era. Chan’s appointment to the conference met derision online for his pro-Beijing stances such as calling for limits on the right to protest.
New Zealand authorities may be forced to return millions of dollars in personal property of MegaUpload founder Kim DotCom that was seized in connection with his January arrest because of a procedural error in court documents, according to the …
CEO Chris Dodd calls the site — shuttered today by the Justice Department — “the largest and most active criminally operated website targeting creative content in the world.” Here’s the MPAA statement:
The Obama administration may not like the Hollywood-supported anti-piracy bills pending in Congress — but it showed today that it’s prepared to crack down on the pirates themselves. The Justice Department calls its attack on Megaupload — said to be the world’s largest file-sharing site — “among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States.” Megaupload allegedly made $175M in criminal proceeds and cost content owners, including music and movie companies, $500M in lost revenue. Officials say that seven people and two corporations were involved in “racketeering conspiracy, conspiring to commit copyright infringement, conspiring to commit money laundering and two substantive counts of criminal copyright infringement.” New Zealand officials today arrested four Megaupload execs: founder Kim Dotcom (also known as Kim Schmitz and Kim Tim Jim Vestor), marketing chief Finn Batato, CTO Mathias Ortmann, and programmer Bram van der Kolk.
It will be interesting to see the ripple effect: Hong Kong-based Megaupload had been endorsed by celebrities including Kim Kardashian, Alicia Keys and Kanye West. The ad-supported site served as a locker for files considered too big to be emailed; the MPAA says that most of the content there was pirated. But prior to today Megaupload denied the charge: “The fact is that the vast majority of Mega’s Internet traffic is legitimate, and we are here to stay,” it said in a statement that had been posted on the site. “If the content industry would like to take advantage of our popularity, we are happy to enter into a dialogue. We have some good ideas. Please get in touch.” Here’s the Justice Department’s release: