Plaudits to PayPal for Cracking Down on Counterfeit DVD and Blu-Ray Disc Merchants

by Howard Gantman 06/22/2011 14:17 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Following a joint operation between PayPal’s Brand Risk Management department and Motion Picture Association (MPA) Asia Pacific investigators, PayPal today closed 33 accounts of merchants specializing in the sale of illegal counterfeit DVDs and Blu-ray Discs.  The investigation discovered that the majority of these merchants are based in mainland China, and that they market and ship their products directly to retail and wholesale customers worldwide.

This joint operation demonstrates the importance and effectiveness of rightsholders and payment processors joining forces to fight online theft.  Payment processors like PayPal recognize that their business models rely on gaining consumers’ trust, and that their brands are tarnished when counterfeit goods are available for sale through their payment system. 

We can only eradicate the scourge of online theft if all stakeholders in the online ecosystem work together.  We thank PayPal for partnering with us on this effort. 

IP Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel Calls for International Cooperation on Content Protection

by Alex Swartsel 06/20/2011 15:01 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Check out Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel’s post on the White House blog this morning about her recent trip to Europe, which included stops in Brussels and London.  “Counterfeiting and piracy is a global crime, and it requires a global solution,” she wrote. 

Espinel also mentioned her office’s work here in the U.S. to find collaborative solutions to content protection:  “Over the last several months, my office has been working closely with Internet Service Providers, advertisers, credit card companies, payment processors, search engines, domain name registrars and registries taking voluntary action against online piracy,” she said. “These private-sector companies, as well as foreign governments, recognize that we all have a stake in maintaining a safe and secure global marketplace. I welcome their cooperation and will continue to engage with them as we fight worldwide counterfeiting together.”

We welcome Ms. Espinel back to the U.S. and look forward to continuing to support her work to protect America’s creative community and prevent content theft.

Creative Community Responds to New York Times on PROTECT IP

by Howard Gantman 06/20/2011 07:20 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Saturday’s New York Times published several letters to the editor responding to a Times editorial on the PROTECT IP Act, including one co-written by MPAA’s Michael O’Leary and Susan Cleary of the Independent Film and Television Alliance.  A few highlights below:

Michael and Susan wrote that stealing TV shows, films, and other creative works threatens jobs:

Content theft hurts everyone except the thieves who profit from it, but it especially hurts the people and businesses who make a living, feed their families and put their kids through school by making magic onscreen. This year alone, eight new TV series will start filming in New York, creating 4,700 jobs, and maybe more in the future. But when rogue Web sites siphon away wages, benefits and investments in new productions, what happens to those jobs?

This bill would protect millions in the creative community by cutting off blatantly criminal rogue sites that steal their hard work. You should stand with them.

Mitch Bainwol at the RIAA emphasized the PROTECT IP Act’s narrow scope and noted its strong support from the Senate Judiciary Committee:

This bill targets only the worst of the worst sites — those that have no commercially significant use other than to offer pirated material and for which infringement is central to the activity of the site. This is not YouTube. This is the Pirate Bay, a Web site whose founders were convicted of criminal copyright violations by a Swedish court in 2009.

…We all agree that something meaningful needs to be done to stop the rampant theft of our products, and this bill is a thoughtful and measured step in the right direction. There’s a reason it won unanimous support from the Judiciary Committee, which reflects the broad geographic and ideological range of our nation, and that, of course, is that the bill does in fact strike a terrific balance.

And Robert Atkinson at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation stressed that even if the bill won’t prevent all content theft, it will still make a difference:

Your editorial suggests that because advanced users will be able to evade some of the technical countermeasures in the Protect IP Act, these provisions should be eliminated. As you acknowledge, allowing Internet service providers to block access to rogue sites by not resolving Web addresses will not stop all piracy. Likewise, locking the doors on your car will not stop all thieves. Yet we still lock our doors.

The point is that the legislation will deter some users from obtaining infringing content, leading to benefits for our economy. With piracy causing billions of dollars of harm every year, every effort counts.

We agree.  To learn more about the PROTECT IP Act, visit our web page dedicated to rogue websites and content theft.

LA Chamber Adds Their Support to PROTECT IP Act

by Elizabeth Kaltman 06/15/2011 16:03 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

The Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce has added its voice to a diverse and influential chorus in support of the PROTECT IP Act. Writing in a blog post yesterday that “policing the Internet for stolen copyrighted material is like draining the Pacific Ocean through a straw – the sheer volume makes it nearly impossible,” the Chamber praised the PROTECT IP Act for “giv[ing] the Attorney General and those holding copyrights the power to go after online companies if they support a site that promotes copyright or trademark infringement.”

The Chamber expressed the importance of passing this key legislation to protect the livelihood of Los Angeles area businesses represented by the Chamber and the 350,000 entertainment industry jobs in the Los Angeles region:

The Los Angeles economy pays a particularly heavy price when material is bootlegged. Lost revenue doesn't just hit film, television and music industry companies in their pocketbook — it directly impacts more than 350,000 entertainment industry employees in our region alone. When a studio or music company loses revenue, there's a direct impact on Los Angeles jobs, from cast and crew, to post-production services, to ancillary businesses such as caterers, dry-cleaners and florists.

Nowhere do rogue sites have a more direct and negative impact on the businesses and employees who depend on a thriving motion picture and television industry than in Los Angeles, the heart of the industry. The Los Angeles Chamber ‘s support in the effort to pass the PROTECT IP Act is significant.

Mike McCurry, in Politico, on Need for Congressional Action Against Online Theft

by Howard Gantman 06/15/2011 14:10 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Great piece in Politico today by former Clinton White House press secretary Mike McCurry, co-chairman of Arts+Labs, on the PROTECT IP Act.

McCurry lauds the bill as an exemplary instance of Congress working together to craft bipartisan, measured legislation that combats a real problem facing the country: cyber crime, specifically online content theft. He notes that the bill cracks down on foreign websites dedicated to stealing American-made content, while offers a nuanced approach so that it only affects bad actors.

He writes:

Every marketplace needs rules to protect people from fraud and theft. But it’s also critical to strike the right balance to capture the criminals while also ensuring the free flow of information across the open Internet. That’s what PROTECT IP aims to do...if sponsors and skeptics can continue to move forward here, the act should provide the basis for a final measure that will support American innovators, protect U.S. intellectual property and propel our economy forward.

We will continue to push for commonsense legislative solutions to the economic scourge of online theft, and look forward to collaborating with members of the Senate and other supporters to advance the PROTECT IP Act.

Michelle Obama Rallies Hollywood in Support of Military Families

by Jessica Garcia 06/15/2011 09:21 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Monday Michelle Obama made a guest appearance in Los Angeles to rally the Hollywood troops in support of our nation’s military families.
In an event hosted by the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Directors Guild of America, Producers Guild of America, Screen Actors Guild, and Writers Guild of America, Michelle Obama sat on a panel moderated by Super 8 director, J.J. Abrams, along with three members of military families and Army Wives creator Katherine Fugate.

The First Lady, together with Dr. Jill Biden, is encouraging the entertainment industry’s involvement in the Joining Forces campaign by including military families in our films, television programming and digital content.

 “I urge you to do what you do best: Be creative, funny, dramatic and move us.”

Joining Forces is an ongoing effort to highlight the unique needs and strengths of America’s military families. Special focus lies in the employment, education and wellness challenges the community encounters. The campaign aims to inspire, educate, and spark action from all sectors of our society to ensure veterans and military families have the opportunities, resources and support they have earned.
The entertainment industry’s current involvement in Joining Forces includes:

 - Public service spots featuring Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Oprah Winfrey and military families to air in July

 -An original song composed by Dianne Warren, to be sung by the music group Rascal Flatts, entitled Compass

 - A cameo by the First Lady on Nickelodeon’s program iCarly, whose lead character is the daughter of an American Service Member

Joining Forces is a great opportunity to inspire a new generation in Hollywood to tell new compelling, intelligent and heartfelt stories of our military troops.

We Don’t Freeze the Internet – Why Freeze the Law?

by Howard Gantman 06/14/2011 08:50 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Terry Hart over at Copyhype has a thoughtful post on the PROTECT IP Act and the Commercial Felony Streaming Act.  Terry emphasizes that just as we wouldn’t expect technology or the Internet to stand still, the laws that keep it secure and that protect speech online need to evolve, too:

Imagine if the web had not progressed past the technology available around the mid 1990s, when it made its way into the mainstream.

No Flash or JavaScript, no CSS, PHP, or XML, no widgets or APIs. Just plain vanilla HTML (and maybe some server-side scripting if you knew what you were doing).

It would be hard to imagine a web like this today. Today’s web allows a myriad of ways for people to engage in communication, commerce, social networking, entertainment, and learning. This is possible because the technology behind the web continued to progress, rather than being frozen in place.

Freezing the technology in place would make little sense. Yet, when it comes to the legal framework that protects copyright and content creators, there are some who call foul whenever new legislation is proposed, who believe it makes perfect sense for the law to be frozen in place while technology rapidly advances.

The underlying idea seems to be that unchecked, wide-scale copyright infringement is just how things are going to be from now on. Content creators need to get busy adapting or get busy dying.

But why shouldn’t the law continue to adapt as well?

The thing we like about Terry’s post is that it also gets at another argument we hear over and over again from the pro-stealing crowd – that any law aimed at putting reasonable safeguards in place online to protect the creators of content will stop the Internet in its tracks, killing all evolving and yet-to-be-developed technologies with no hope of future innovation. 

As Terry makes clear, the Internet will always be free to evolve – that’s what makes it such a terrific tool to connect us to one another and bring us face to face with new ideas.  But just like on a regular highway, the information superhighway still needs rules of the road.  That’s why this legislation is so important.

New Co-Sponsors of the PROTECT IP Act

by Kate Spence 06/14/2011 08:46 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Bipartisan support for the PROTECT IP act is growing. In the last several weeks, five senators have added their names as co-sponsors of this important bill to protect the creative community.

Thanks to Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Bob Corker (R-TN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Marco Rubio (R-FL) and all the other co-sponsors for supporting efforts to fight content theft. 

For more about the PROTECT IP Act, visit our rogue websites page.

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