Salute to Costume Designers

by Jessica Garcia 08/26/2011 15:26 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Think about Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter and Iron Man. What do all of these films have in common? Great costumes, of course! The wardrobes in these films all created a unique personality, atmosphere, and setting. Costumes, and especially those who make them, deserve special recognition for enhancing our movie-watching experience. 

In its new “Give Credit” campaign, Creative America is celebrating the many unique professions that make up our entertainment community week by week. This week, they’re highlighting costume designers, the inventors and creators of the stylish, beautiful, whimsical, and pitch-perfect clothes we’ve seen in our favorite movies, television shows, and theatrical productions. We’re happy to join Creative America in saluting the hardworking costume designers of our entertainment industry.

Meet Janie Bryant, costume designer for award-winning television series, Mad Men. Learn about her job, how she started in the business and why she loves it. She is one of thousands of designers dependent on film and television production to make a living.  One important way we can support her hard work is to help protect her job by standing up against content theft, which drains wages and benefits for the many people behind the scenes of great movies and TV shows.

As we learned from legendary award-winning designer Edith Head, fashion is an intricate layer of every character, always carefully designed to be seamlessly woven into every plotline. Like Edith before her, Janie is setting trends in fashion today.  We need Janie Bryant and others like her to follow in Edith’s footsteps by continuing to create timeless costumes for our films and television programs. After all, what would Scarlett be without her curtain-rod dress or Dorothy without her ruby red slippers? The Joker without his colorful suits or Indiana Jones without his brown fedora hat?

Check out CreativeAmerica on Twitter and Facebook to #GiveCredit and share your favorite costumes of all time!

 

Content Theft and the People Who Make the Movies

by Jessica Garcia 08/25/2011 11:57 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Imagine going to work for a full day but only receiving half a paycheck. That hardly seems fair, right? You put in the hours, you did your job – you deserve to receive your full paycheck. 

But for many people who work in motion pictures, the rampant theft of films, TV shows, and other creative content online means it doesn’t always work that way. 

Take 127 Hours, for example.  This film, an Academy Award nominee for Best Motion Picture of the Year and numerous other honors, was seen at least 9.4 million times at the box office around the world based on data from Rentrak Corporation and Box Office Mojo. But in 2011 alone, 127 Hours has been downloaded illegally 6.6 million times through BitTorrent and other key P2P applications, according to Peer Media Technologies.

The TV show Game of Thrones is another powerful example.  Game of Thrones was watched by 3.9 million people in the U.S. during its finale in June according to Nielsen Media Research – but illegally downloaded using BitTorrent and other P2P protocols 1.4 million times in the U.S. and 11 million times worldwide in 2011, Peer Media says.

Creating a film or television series requires a lot of time, money and labor. No creative work could reach completion without the collaboration of many people – including some you may not expect.  Truck drivers, caterers, dry cleaners, make-up artists, accountants, and so many more can all be part of keeping a production running effectively and making a great movie.

The film and television industry supports over 2 million American jobs, all dependent on movie and TV making, in ways big and small, to earn a living and support their families.  And often, most of the money that goes into paying those workers and helping them save for retirement comes not from the box office, but from what’s called the after market – sales of movies and TV shows online, on DVD, in syndication, and so on. 

So when someone downloads or streams a movie on an unauthorized site that pays nothing to the people who made the movie, instead of through a legitimate source, that means workers and their families end up with less. 

If the people who viewed 127 Hours or Game of Thrones by downloading illegally had watched in legitimate ways instead, just imagine what a difference that might have made.

When you think about content theft, consider this: every time you buy a theater ticket or DVD, or watch filmed entertainment from a legitimate, authorized source, you are helping to support more than 2 million workers involved in our industry.

Categories: Content Protection, Job Production

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Hollywood Buzz in Cleveland, Ohio

by Jessica Garcia 08/24/2011 11:28 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Northeast Ohio has been seeing a lot of action lately – filming action, that is. The cast and crew of  Paramount’s The Avengers and Summit Entertainment’s I, Alex Cross  have taken up residence in Cleveland, Ohio  this month, bringing with them  an influx of new business, sightseers, and excitement to the area.

Local television news channels WKYC-TV Channel 3 News and WEWS-TV NewsChannel5 recently aired segments highlighting local reactions to the two productions. Overall, the films have received a warm reception from residents, and with good reason.

The productions have brought 300 cast and crew jobs to the city and sent out casting calls for over 3,000 extras. Local restaurants, bars, hotels and stores are also experiencing a boost in business from the cast and crew members and eager sightseers seeking a glimpse of the Hollywood action. 

Bystanders and business owners alike agree that the film tax credits given by the State of Ohio to attract these two productions are evidently great investments. Locals are enjoying the lively and action-packed downtown areas and business owners are benefiting from increased revenues.

“The film crews have been in almost every night,” Kaitlin Cassidy, Manager of Harry Buffalo Restaurant, told WKCY-TV.  “The movie itself has drawn people that want to come look and see what’s going on downtown.”

A total of seven major productions are set to film in Northeast Ohio this year, granting local residents plenty of opportunities to experience Hollywood close to home. The Greater Cleveland Commission says local filming will contribute an additional $90 million to Northeast Ohio’s economy this year alone. Now that’s buzz worthy. 

Categories: Job Production

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Washington Post Hails Need for PROTECT IP

by Howard Gantman 08/24/2011 08:41 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

The Washington Post published a thoughtful editorial this morning on the PROTECT IP Act and the need for “a legal tool that stops those who persistently leech off of the innovations of others.” 
 
The Post acknowledges criticism of the bill by some who “point to the effectiveness of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA),” but asks: “But what if the Web site is a consistent scofflaw?”
 
Noting that online theft “costs the copyright- or trademark-holders billions of dollars each year and thwarts the ability of writers, producers, songwriters and others in the creative arts to earn the royalties they are due,” the Post highlights PROTECT IP’s balanced approach:

Defendant Web sites would have the right to contest the allegation. An otherwise legitimate site that may have sold a product that turned out to be a fake or unknowingly linked to or posted an item to which it did not have the rights to would be spared from legal action.

…The Protect IP Act takes pains to protect Internet service providers, search engines and others that may have done business with a rogue site. They are not required to scour the Internet for offenders nor are they held liable if they happen to host or provide services to a site that is eventually deemed unlawful. They are only required to take “reasonable” and “technically feasible” measures to obey a court order.

The outpouring of support for this bipartisan bill from around the country – from businesses, local law enforcement, first responders, elected officials, and workers alike – gives it real momentum heading into the fall.  We encourage the Senate to take it up and pass it quickly once they return from their work in their states, and look forward to the introduction of a House counterpart.

The Potential Cost of PROTECT IP - Our Take

by Cybele Daley 08/22/2011 08:59 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Here’s the thing to know about the Congressional Budget Office (CBO)’s cost estimate for implementing the PROTECT IP Act: it’s entirely possible that it won’t cost anything extra at all.
 
The bill doesn’t call for any spending in itself; you will find no dollar signs in PROTECT IP.  CBO’s statements that the bill “would not affect direct spending or revenues” and “would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal governments” reflect that same fact.  The bill does not direct the government to spend money, which is enormously important.
 
The Justice Department has seen a significant increase in its resources related to fighting copyright infringement and intellectual property theft in recent years.  The PRO-IP Act of 2008 authorized and Congress subsequently provided funding for an additional 51 FBI agents dedicated to enforcement of intellectual property laws.  The new PROTECT IP Act would give these agents and their colleagues new authority to tackle the threat of rogue sites, and knowing what we do about the FBI, it’s extremely unlikely that they would wait to start going after rogue sites until additional money came in the door.  
 
Of course, to echo what the Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy said last week, we would welcome it if Congress chooses to devote even more resources to the fight against content theft and counterfeiting – especially since fewer stolen movies, TV shows, and other content will mean not only more jobs and economic output, but more tax revenues, too. 

Even if prosecutors were successfully able to keep just a handful of the highest-traffic sites that steal films and TV out of the U.S. marketplace each year, it would make a huge difference.  In that sense, any money we spend on PROTECT IP is likely to produce a healthy return on investment for taxpayers – which, in the end, is the best outcome of all.

Don Henley on Content Theft in USA Today

by Alex Swartsel 08/22/2011 07:36 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Songwriter and Grammy-award winner Don Henley is speaking out in support of the PROTECT IP Act with an op-ed in USA Today, posted online yesterday.  In particular, Henley expresses concern at a push to exempt search engines from the bill:

"Search engines, including Google, already make filtering tools that block references and links to websites featuring pornographic and other content considered unsuitable or offensive. The technology is there, but the will of some companies is not. It seems that their real agenda is to avoid the loss of advertising, 'pay per click' and other revenue if these sites were shut down. After all, Google is reportedly bracing for a $500 million fine for doing just that ?— accepting untold advertising dollars from illegal online pharmacies.

"Proposed solutions aren't radical; they are common-sense extensions of current legal powers. As with other federal crimes, authorities have the ability to seize ill-gotten gains along with the tools used to commit the crimes. But most criminals register their domain names overseas, forcing U.S. law enforcement officials to play a frustrating online cat-and-mouse game. In order to take down these illegal sites, they need cooperation from U.S. Internet service providers and search engines. American firms can and should block these criminal sites, and U.S. ad networks and credit card companies should cut off money going to them. The 'Protect IP Act' would give law enforcement the tools to accomplish this goal."

Read the rest of Henley’s column here.

When It Comes to Fighting Rogue Sites, We All Need to Stand Together

by Cybele Daley 08/19/2011 10:16 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Larry Downes’s “Five essential changes to Protect IP Act” post for CNET this week is mistitled.  Rather than strengthen this crucial legislation, which enlists a wide range of players in the Internet ecosystem to help shut down foreign websites that traffic in stolen intellectual property, Mr. Downes’s proposals would gut it. 

It’s disappointing that some in the tech community seem to be suggesting that the only way they will support legislation combating rogue sites is if that legislation doesn’t require the tech community to do anything.  But that approach is both ineffective and irresponsible.  What gives the PROTECT IP Act its force is the same thing that bothers its opponents: its recognition that when it comes to stopping content theft, we are all in this together, and we all need to work together for those efforts to succeed. 

That means it’s not enough, as Downes suggests, to prevent rogue websites from accessing the U.S. financial infrastructure they use to profit from stolen content, such as payment processing and advertising networks.  We also need to keep those sites – which are actively involved, every day, in the wholesale theft of American-made intellectual property – from using U.S.-based technological infrastructure to infiltrate the legitimate marketplace for content and consumer goods.  Legislation that doesn’t get at both pieces of that puzzle, at least in some way, will be markedly less effective.

Downes claims new legislation on rogue sites isn’t necessary because “existing enforcement mechanisms, such as the ‘notice and takedown’ provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, have made great strides in controlling unlicensed distribution.”  It’s true that the DMCA is a critically important and widely used tool, but it works only when the website hosting infringing content is willing to comply.  Notorious rogue site The Pirate Bay proudly states that “0 torrents has been removed, and 0 torrents will ever be removed” [sic].  

Trust us – if the people and organizations who create content and other intellectual property could stop all online theft alone, we’d have done it long ago.  But we can’t.  We need help.  To this end, we’re pleased that it looks as though there will soon be a version of PROTECT IP introduced in the House.  Kudos to Chairman Goodlatte for making clear that this bill will include “new legal tools” for both law enforcement and copyright-holders to protect their intellectual property against infringement. 

The way we see it, if we protect the jobs, wages, public revenues, and other economic growth that results when we safeguard intellectual property, we all benefit.

Stealing Isn’t Saving II

by Alex Swartsel 08/16/2011 06:57 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

My post from the end of last week responding to a GigaOm NewTeeVee piece suggesting that economic instability would trigger a rise in online content theft, which GigaOm generously asked to republish, generated interesting follow-ups on both TorrentFreak and Techdirt.  I had a couple of thoughts I wanted to share in response.

Both enigmax’s post for TorrentFreak and Mike Masnick’s for Techdirt argue that I misunderstood the original post, written by NewTeeVee co-editor Janko Roettgers, which was “simply reporting a simple fact” (as Masnick put it) that “people who have the ability may choose to reduce their TV and movie bills in times of hardship” (as enigmax euphemistically put it).

In other words: movie and TV theft is inevitable.  Why?  Because it’s easy to steal something that, in physical form, exists only as data, and easy to justify stealing it as a result?  Because information wants to be free, no matter the cost it took to produce or its creators’ judgments about how best to disseminate it?  Because anything is fair game once it’s on the Internet?   Because if I rip a movie file off of a DVD or camcord a showing at a theater, I have created that movie with my own labor and can do whatever I want with the file, including posting it online and making money from ad sales or subscription fees?  Because by stealing films and TV, or watching stolen films and TV, I’m just exercising my First Amendment rights to freedom of speech?  All those are arguments we’ve heard before.

Mike Masnick wrote that we need to “adapt and deal with reality,” and actually, I think he’s right – depending on which reality we’re talking about.  Is it the reality that the Internet and the explosion of mobile technology have opened up vast new ways for us to communicate with one another and for film and TV-makers to offer their work to people who want to watch it?  Because as Julia blogged last month, there are “more options than ever before to get movies and TV shows online safely and legitimately” – we have a list on MPAA.org here, and the creative minds in our industry are working on even more as we speak. 

Is it the reality that some people do steal content online?  Unfortunately, it’s clear that’s true – otherwise we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation.  But do “many, many people” really intend to engage in theft just to watch a movie or TV show cheaply or for free?  We doubt it, particularly if legitimate, better alternatives are available; if they know it’s wrong; and if they understand it’s not a victimless crime. 

Efforts are underway on all of those fronts, both here at MPAA and across the country.  One major reason we published that list of authorized online sources is to make it very clear which sites are okay, because some rogue sites that seem to go out of their way to appear legitimate could surely confuse people who aren’t as familiar with where to go for movies and TV online.  A major benefit of our new agreement with Internet Service Providers is that it will help consumers get more information about why copyright is important and the impact of content theft.  And new organizations like Creative America are bringing together the people whose work goes into making films, TV, and other creative works to help make sure they have the opportunity to speak out about how content theft affects them – check out this post by Jessica last week with a video offering just a few examples.

But if what Masnick means is that we need to throw up our hands and look the other way while people who had nothing to do with making a movie or a TV show steal and profit from it, that is a reality to which we do not care to adapt, period. 


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