TED Talk: Rob Reid Investigates MPAA's Piracy Claims With "Copyright Math"

One of the big questions in the battle over piracy is exactly how much damage is actually being done. The MPAA and the RIAA, naturally, claim to be losing staggering amounts of revenue thanks to piracy. As this new TED Talk from Listen.com/Rhapsody founder Rob Reid shows, however, there could be a big difference between actual, cold-hard-facts math and what he calls their "©opyright Math™." For example, did you know that your iPod Classic is capable of holding $8 billion in stolen goods, as estimated by the RIAA? Hit the video for his hilarious 5-minute lecture, in which he demonstrates just how off-base some of these numbers could be.

I tend to reserve the tiniest bit of suspicion for any sort of statistics — even Reid's — since they're so easy to manipulate or misrepresent, accidentally or otherwise. That said, he does a great job of making the point that the figures cited by the entertainment industry may not be quite as objective as they appear.

While it's understandable that the entertainment industry would rather people not get their products for free, Reid argues that draconian laws like SOPA or PIPA aren't the way to go. Instead, he believes the industries should focus on making the legal acquisition of entertainment easier for the consumer.

"I think the right answer is that there is nothing you can do to enforce prohibition in any area. The only solution is to make legal services so compelling that it is ludicrous to do it any other way," he asserted. "That's how you fight piracy."

Not that Reid's opinion will stop the entertainment industry from continuing to crack down on piracy, of course. One of the more recent victories for the MPAA and RIAA is a new monitoring and alarm system to be implemented by ISPs starting this summer. Customers who illegally share files on P2P networks will receive notices and warnings before "mitigation measures" such as throttling upload and download speeds are put into effect.