G8 Leaders Commit to Importance of Intellectual Property Rights

by Anissa Whitten 05/25/2012 09:15 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

When the leaders of the G8 countries met last week in Camp David, they addressed major economic and political challenges facing today’s world. The resulting declaration stressed the importance of intellectual property rights (IPR) to stimulate economic growth and jobs.

At the MPAA, we applaud the leaders’ recognition of the critical importance of promoting IP protection worldwide. But make no mistake, this is only a step. The 2.2 million Americans, and millions more globally, whose jobs depend on the film and television industry rely on worldwide content protection to continue to produce the creative product that is a vital part of our economy.

Around the globe, creative industries are raising a united voice on the importance of protecting and enforcing intellectual property rights to further job growth and economic competitiveness.  Without measures to secure creative content, the growth of our industry is threatened on a daily basis.

With new markets opening around the world for the movie and television industry, the time for actively working with other governments to protect and promote IPR has never been more imperative. Our industry is one of the few that consistently generates a positive balance of trade for the United States and we should encourage policies that fuel further growth.

We appreciate the leaders’ recognition of the importance of IPR and look forward to learning of their next steps to improve the protection and enforcement of IPR worldwide.

Keeping the Internet Safe for Consumers

by Marc Miller 05/23/2012 09:46 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Online copyright infringement and piracy used to be the stuff of law school seminars but the ongoing debate in Washington over how to protect intellectual property has thrust these issues into the mainstream conversation.
Discussions about anti-piracy efforts now abound in every corner of the Internet amongst people who feel passionately about being able to access content.

I have spent my career working on these issues and I believe it’s critical to find solutions to the challenges facing both these consumers and the people who create the content.  Because at the end of the day, this discussion is about consumers and by consumers who love TV shows and movies.  They want to be able to access them quickly and safely online.
As the MPAA’s new head of Internet content protection, it’s my job to make sure consumers can watch their favorite shows and movies in a trustworthy and safe digital environment, while getting high-quality and reliable content. That means creating a legal and technical environment where legitimate outlets can flourish, while finding and putting a stop to the illegal activity that puts consumers and the viability of innovative new business models at risk.
No business in the world can compete with “free.”  But make no mistake, many of the movies and TV shows that people think are “free” are not – they’re stolen.  And they often pose a risk to unsuspecting users who think they’re getting some kind of deal from these sites.
Identity theft, privacy abuses and computer viruses represent some of the potential dangers consumers unwittingly encounter on these sites. Our focus is on continuing to educate consumers on where they can access great content safely and securely while also ensuring that the work that went into producing this content is not stolen.
As platforms for watching content continue to develop and improve, so do legitimate services for providing content.  Just this week, in fact, Verizon announced Viewdini, a new mobile app that will aggregate video and deliver content to consumers. Viewdini is the latest in a long line of services including Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, HBO Go and dozens of others that bring shows and movies to mobile screens across the country and around the world.
As consumers of video content increasingly move online, the MPAA is working to let consumers know about the many ways they can watch content online legitimately and safely.

Protecting American Industry by Protecting American Consumers

by Michael O'Leary 05/17/2012 08:10 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

The Washington Post’s Rob Malda’s recent blog post appears to argue that the success of a particular film at the box office somehow means that concerns about widespread piracy are misplaced.  This is a bit like condoning shoplifting if it’s done at a successful store.  Of course, we shouldn’t.  And it overlooks the economic damage – and the damage to consumers -- of turning a blind eye to such forms of theft. 

According to a recent Department of Commerce report, IP-intensive industries such as film and television support 40 million jobs and add $5 trillion dollars to U.S. gross domestic product annually – nearly 35 percent of America’s economic output.  2.2 million American jobs depend on the film industry and television industry alone. 

We think that the hard work of those people should be protected.  But the reality is that rampant online theft undermines the ability of IP-intensive industries like ours to invest in new ideas and new products if it’s simply accepted fact that they will be stolen – often before they even have a chance to hit the marketplace.  Copyright protections are critical to keeping the creative industries vibrant so they can continue to employ millions of Americans and produce the films and other creative content that have become such a vital part of our cultural fabric.

Finally, in any discussion of online theft, it is important to recognize the threat that sites that traffic in stolen products often pose to the individual consumers who use them.  They put American consumers at risk for identity theft, fraud and damaging privacy violations.  They jeopardize the security of the computers that access them.  They jeopardize the security of users’ personal financial information.  Curbing online piracy means protecting American industry, but it also means protecting American consumers.

More Good News for Creative Community and Consumers Coming from the Netherlands

by Ted Shapiro 05/11/2012 12:54 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

The District Court of The Hague (the Netherlands) orders that an additional four ISPs (KPN, UPC, T-Mobile and Tele2) block The Pirate Bay before 20 May 2012.  This is the second major milestone in the Netherlands with regard to blocking this particular file-sharing site, as earlier this year the same court had taken similar action against ISPs Ziggo and XS4ALL.  What this effectively means is that every ISP in the Netherlands now needs to block The Pirate Bay.

The court verdict found that The Pirate Bay is predominantly devoted to illegal activities with more than 90% of all content infringing on copyright.  Particularly noteworthy is that the court verdict also considers site-blocking an important step to reduce overall infringement, “…without site-blocking infringement cannot be tackled effectively …”

In a second legal case against the Dutch Pirate Party, the District Court of The Hague found the Dutch Pirate Party responsible of facilitating active circumvention of The Pirate Bay block and ordered it to stop offering services that allowed continued access to The Pirate Bay.  The court states that this does not infringe upon free speech or the possibility of the Dutch Pirate Party to take part in the political discourse.

The UK ruling and indeed other recent ones in Austria, Belgium, Denmark and Finland as well as this one are positive developments that support not only the creative community but also consumers.  The number of sites that offer legitimate creative content continues to increase dramatically.  But to fully enable this growing sector to thrive and provide consumers with content when they want it, where they want it and how they want it, it is imperative that the content not be siphoned off and distributed illegally by those seeking to profit from the work and creativity of others.

Read more here.

Hollywood Created By Pirates?

by TJ Ducklo 05/09/2012 10:20 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

How did Hollywood become Hollywood? If you ask the operators of The Pirate Bay and their apologists, they’ll say Hollywood was built by a band of pirates, fleeing stringent East Coast patent protections to a free and open land to create at will. This theory conveniently parallels their own existence, as they seek to justify profiting from digital theft.  Spoiler alert: their story is fiction.  Copyhype’s Terry Hart chronicles the origins of the heart of showbiz in a recent piece, debunking the theory that filmmakers’ migration west was to flee enforcement of intellectual property laws.

As Hart points out, the patents at issue were held by the Motion Picture Patents Company, which, through restrictive tie-in agreements and licensing practices, severely impeded independent filmmakers from entering the market.  But the status quo was challenged, and shortly afterwards, the Supreme Court determined that MPPC’s licensing practices give it “a potential power for evil over” movie producers which “would be gravely injurious to th[e] public interest.” This 1917 ruling severely undermined MPPC’s unfair business practices.

So why did so many filmmaker make the trek cross-country to the Golden State? Geography is one good reason, says Hart.

The landscape of Southern California provides a multitude of options for filmmakers when choosing their films’ setting. Weather is another good reason, he adds. The transition from harsh East Coast winters to 70 degrees and sunny was certainly a welcome one for the film community.  Not to mention land was cheaper and labor more available. It seems landscape, climate, and business were all an improvement for creators looking to relocate.

Thus, while the “Hollywood was created by pirates” schtick may be cute, it is a false narrative pressed primarily by copyright opponents as a way to validate online content theft.

Advertisers Pledge Not to Support ‘Rogue' Websites

by Howard Gantman 05/08/2012 06:50 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

The nation’s major advertising trade associations have released a set of best practices to ensure that companies do not place ads on websites dedicated to selling counterfeit products and stolen content.

The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s) released a Statement of Best Practices to curb advertising on “rogue” Internet sites, which ends up filling the pockets of the operators of these largely offshore sites.

The statement specifically advises marketers to include language in their contracts and insertion orders to prevent ads from appearing on ‘rogue’ sites dedicated to infringement of intellectual property rights of others.

Ads for trusted brands can inadvertently lend legitimacy to “rogue” sites and can mislead consumers into believing that these sites are offering safe and tested products and complying with the law. In reality, this could not be farther from the truth. These sites are stealing the intellectual property of US creators, and in turn, stealing from the American economy.

In addition to movies, music and other creative content, these rogue sites traffic in counterfeit prescription medications, household products and other goods. They are located throughout the world, and while they often look legitimate - featuring advertising from reputable companies and accepting major credit cards - they're really online havens for theft, enabling criminals to profit from content or intellectual property they had nothing to do with creating.

The potential harm from these rogue sites - exposure to malware, identity theft, unsafe and untested medicines, counterfeit products, and lost jobs and income for creative workers - is profound. 

The release of the statement is a sign of industry trying to take steps to tackle the problem of online piracy on their own and it is a big step in the right direction toward that goal.

Attention Film-Lovers: We Got Your Content Right Here

by TJ Ducklo 05/04/2012 10:49 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Julianna Strickland has a movie buff’s dream job. Her title: Content Curator for MOVIECLIPS.COM. Her duties: decide which clips from virtually every movie out there make it online, available to viewers FOR FREE. Julianna’s employer MOVIECLIPS.Com was the subject of a recent NPR piece that explored their services which features trailers, short scenes, promotional video, and other footage online. 

Founded in 2009, MOVIECLIPS combines the worlds of content, technology, and social media to create an interactive forum for movie lovers to do what they do: celebrate film. In addition to the thousands of free clips made available by all six major studios and many independents, the site allows users to add a film to their Netflix queue, purchase the film on Amazon, Itunes, or another legal site, or share the clip through various social media. Best of all, the video is searchable through various web-based platforms.

Last week at CinemaCon, MPAA Chairman Senator Chris Dodd called for a stronger, more cooperative relationship between the content and tech communities. "Content needs technology, technology needs content, and the idea that somehow there is a loser in all of this, it's beyond my imagination why people are insisting on that," Dodd said during the annual gathering of theater owners. One need look no further than MOVIECLIPS.COM to see this sentiment in action. As technology continues to evolve, creating newer, more dynamic ways for consumers to access content is the way of the future.

UK Court Ruling is Good News for Creative Community and Consumers

by Henry Hoberman 05/01/2012 14:02 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Filmmakers, musicians, software and video game developers, and other creators of content around the world should welcome the latest in a series of rulings from European courts requiring internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to illegal websites.

The High Court in the United Kingdom has ordered ISPs in that country to block access to The Pirate Bay, an illegal website that steals content from across the creative sector, causing widespread damage and threatening jobs in the creative industries. European courts continue to take action against sites that are predominantly devoted to illegal activities, including content theft. The Pirate Bay may be the most notorious of such sites.
The four founders of The Pirate Bay had previously been convicted of criminal copyright infringement in April 2009 in Sweden, a ruling that was upheld on appeal in 2010 and again earlier this year. Even after these criminal convictions, the illegal site continues to function.
Late Friday, in a case brought by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), Mr. Justice Arnold ordered five British ISPs to begin blocking access by their subscribers to The Pirate Bay. In issuing this order, Mr. Justice Arnold has joined judges in Ireland, Belgium, Netherlands, Finland, Denmark, and Italy, who have issued similar rulings.
These developments are good for content creators, workers in the creative industries, and, ultimately, for consumers. As courts throughout Europe move to shut down avenues of illicit content, they are helping to ensure that consumers will continue to have access to the compelling, legitimate, and virus-free content they want, including popular music, movies, video games and software.

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