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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
04/13/2012 07:59 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)
The growing popularity of the Internet around the world and in China presents some of the entertainment industry’s biggest opportunities and challenges. The entertainment industry is committed to innovative ways to give consumers access movies and television shows online but unfortunately piracy is a growing problem globally and in China. As part of this commitment to innovation, an increasing number of movies and television shows are available online in China and many of China’s leading actors and directors are part of a public campaign to thank and encourage consumers to purchase content online through a growing number of legal video sites.
China and the United States are two nations that have an increasing and shared stake in encouraging a healthy, legitimate marketplace for film and other creative works. Both countries appreciate not only the cultural contributions of movies, but also the extraordinary and growing economic opportunities they generate. Internationally, the entertainment industry contributes billions of dollars to the global economy and employs hundreds of thousands of individuals each year.
This week, the U.S. Department of Commerce released a first-ever report on intellectual property industries contributions to the American economy. It clearly shows that the entertainment industry is an engine of economic growth. These businesses, including movies and television, supported the jobs of 40 million American workers, or 27.7 percent of all U.S. jobs.
There are 513 million Internet users in China, more than the entire population of the United States. These users represent 38.3 percent of China’s entire population of 1.3 billion. However, the piracy of content through streaming or the sale of counterfeit DVD and Blu-ray discs on China’s increasingly popular e-commerce sites represents a major loss for the entertainment companies.
On April 11, to encourage consumers to buy content online, the Motion Picture Association together with major Chinese online video sites Youku, Sohu, iQiyi and LeTV unveiled a “Thank You” video featuring nearly 100 of China’s best-known actors and filmmakers. This was part of U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke’s Roundtable on Intellectual Property Rights Protection.
Heeding a call from the Motion Picture Association, China’s film community turned out in droves to deliver personal messages of thanks to the sites’ hundreds of millions of users and to ask for support of legitimate online screen content, with the full backing of China’s burgeoning online video industry.
After many years of outreach to promote the protection of content online, we are now witnessing an increasingly promising online video business environment in China. Promoting and protecting the creative community in China will allow artists and filmmakers to focus on developing ideas and products that meet consumer demand. It is extremely encouraging to see the Chinese film community directly engaging their fellow citizens to support one of China’s most dynamic and culturally important industries.
03/30/2012 13:21 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)
The motion picture industry, like all major American job creators, is part of a growing and interconnected world economy. But it might be surprising how important foreign movie theater audiences are to the millions of Americans who depend on the motion picture industry for their jobs. What country sells the most movie tickets every year? India -- 3.3 billion tickets to movie theaters. And which country had the largest box office growth last year? China led the way with a 35 percent increase.
The opening of new markets across the world for the motion picture industry is a cultural and economic achievement. Movies contribute to the richness of cultures across the world, with filmmakers from every nation telling interesting and important stories that can only be expressed through the medium of film. And there is nothing like watching a movie in a packed theater. Throughout the world, people are going in increasing numbers to the cinema to have the special experience of seeing a movie on the big screen.
In 2011, global box office receipts increased by three percent to $32.6 billion. Much of that growth was driven by overseas markets. Every international region, from South America to Asia, experienced box office growth. These numbers underscore the impact of movies on the global economy and the vitality of a trip to the local cinema, which remains one of the most affordable entertainment options for consumers.
I recently traveled to Beijing, Hong Kong and Mumbai to encourage greater partnership with the film communities in China and India and to encourage more market access for American films.
While in Beijing, I spoke with some of the American and Chinese officials who helped create a landmark trade agreement last month that allows Chinese audiences to see more American movies. This agreement significantly increases the number of American films allowed to be shown in movie theaters in China and provides a larger share of revenue for U.S. film companies.
China is of great importance to American filmmakers. The marketplace for American movies is thriving with the strongest growth in overseas markets, especially China. The Chinese box office had, by far, the largest growth of any major market in 2011 and is the second largest overseas market behind Japan.
Like America, India is a nation where movies matter. They enrich the culture while creating a more vibrant economy that helps the prosperity of the Indian middle class. In Mumbai, I spoke with many Indian government officials along with film and entertainment industry leaders at the FICCI FRAMES conference about the rapid growth of the Indian motion picture industry. Two years ago it was a $3.2 billion industry. Two years from now it is estimated to exceed $5 billion, which is truly incredible growth.
The box office in India is also growing. Last year, there were $1.4 billion in ticket sales, the fifth largest box office receipts in the world.
The expansion of theater audiences is good for the economy in America and around the world. Many movies make from half to seventy percent of their box office revenue in foreign markets. This helps grow an industry on which over 2.2 million Americans depend for their jobs. And this industry is one of the few that consistently generates a positive balance of trade for the United States.
I look forward to another year of great movies and strong box office growth throughout the world. Innovation and technology continue to be a driving force for the motion picture industry. Movie theaters are filled across the globe with people excited about great films and new technology that enhances the movie going experience.