House of Representatives Stands Up for Creative Community Jobs with New Rogue Sites Bill

by Alex Swartsel 10/26/2011 15:25 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Today marks a major step forward in the fight against rogue websites with introduction of the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R. 3261) in the House of Representatives.  Sponsored by Representatives Lamar Smith (R-TX), John Conyers (D-MI), Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), and Howard Berman (D-CA), this counterpart to the Senate’s PROTECT IP bill asks all member of the Internet ecosystem to do their part to prevent online content theft, preventing “rogue” websites from exploiting U.S. registrars, registries, Internet service providers, payment processors, search engines and ad placement services to sustain their illicit online businesses.
We joined with the Independent Film & Television Alliance® (IFTA®), the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), and Deluxe Entertainment Services Group Inc. in applauding the House for standing up for creative community jobs.  Here’s what our Michael O’Leary said about the bill:

“Over 2 million Americans across all 50 states earn a living and support their families in jobs connected to the making of motion pictures and television shows.  They deserve better than to see their work stolen out from under them by criminals out to make a profit.  This legislation hits rogue sites where it hurts: their access to American consumers and to the financial services they use to make money.  We want to thank Chairman Smith, Chairman Goodlatte and the other co-sponsors for standing up for good American jobs.”

Read the full press release here.

Addressing Google's Concerns

by TJ Ducklo 10/25/2011 14:58 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

For a compelling response to the comments made by Google Director of Public Policy Bob Boorstin today on the PROTECT IP act, please see the May 24th analysis written by Cahill Gordon & Reindel intellectual property expert Floyd Abrams, particularly the following passage where he directly addresses Mr. Boorstin’s concerns:

"I would like to directly acknowledge that potential action by Congress in this area has drawn objections from groups and individuals with deeply held beliefs about civil liberties, human rights, and a free Internet."

"Among a range of objections, two core critiques stand out. First, there is a recurring argument that the United States would be less credible in its criticism of nations that egregiously violate the civil liberties of their citizens if Congress cracks down on rogue websites. Second, there is the vaguer notion that stealing is somehow less offensive when carried out online."

"I disagree. Copyright violations are not protected by the First Amendment. Entities “dedicated to infringing activities” are not engaging in speech that any civilized, let alone freedom-oriented nations protects.  That these infringing activities occur on the Internet makes them not less, but more harmful. The notion that by combating such acts through legislation, the United States would compromise its role as the world leader in advancing a free and universal Internet seems to me insupportable. As a matter of both constitutional law and public policy, the United States must remain committed to defending both the right to speak and the ability to protect one’s intellectual creations. This legislation does not impair or overcome the constitutional right to engage in speech; it protects creators of speech, as Congress has since this Nation was founded, by combating its theft." 

Author Robert Levine: Copyright Infringement Destroying Jobs

by Alec Jacobs 10/24/2011 15:05 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

According to Robert Levine, author of the new book Free Ride: How Digital Parasites are Destroying the Culture Business, and How the Culture Business Can Fight Back, the massive amount of copyright infringement on the Internet is “jeopardizing our creative content, hurting our economy, [and] destroying jobs.”

In this video, Levine takes a trip to New York City, where he lived in the 90s. One of his favorite neighborhoods in the city was St. Mark’s Place, where he’d buy music on vinyl and CD. “I think at any given time, there’ve been four or five record stores on this block alone,” he remembers. “Less than 15 years later, all that’s gone.”

And the reason: copyright infringement online. “The same forces that really just decimated the music business are now starting to affect these other businesses. Film, TV, books and newspapers. And you’re gonna see the same thing happen.”

The issue, Levine says, really comes down to jobs: “You’ve got to look at the whole picture, everybody who works at those companies is suffering, and fewer people are working there than were working there before. That’s not good at all. Fewer films get made, the films that get made have smaller budgets, and that doesn’t only affect actors who are making millions of dollars. It affects the people that do hair and makeup, the set designers, the crews.

“Who’s employing people and who’s generating creativity? Because creativity without the Internet is still a business. The Internet without creative content is not much of a business at all.”

Another Voice in Support of Rogue Sites Legislation

by TJ Ducklo and Alex Swartsel 10/13/2011 15:24 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Tom Giovanetti of the Institute for Policy Innovation concludes that taking action against rogue websites will be crucial to promoting innovation and creativity worldwide. Giovanetti’s findings were released yesterday in an IPI position paper and make several fundamental arguments in support of targeting such sites.

The Texas-based think tank’s approach is measured and well organized, fleshing out the underlying principles that make enacting the PROTECT IP Act and its soon-to-be-introduced House companion a major step forward for the over 2 million men and women in America’s creative community. Here are a few highlights from Giovanetti’s piece:

PROTECT IP Does Not Permit the Government to Arbitrarily Shut Down Websites Without Due Process. One “concern is that somehow powers granted through the Protect IP Act would be extended such that the federal government would shut down websites because of political speech or content that the federal government found objectionable. … It’s important to remember that the federal government already has the legal tools to shut down websites hosted within the United States that have been proven to exist for the purpose of distributing illegal content. These legal tools are narrowly tailored to focus on websites solely or primarily existing to distribute pirated or counterfeit goods, and preserve the due process protections afforded American citizens. We are not aware of any instance where websites have been shut down by federal action because of political speech under the existing legal framework.”

“Not Unreasonable to Expect [Intermediaries] Who Facilitate Access to and Commerce with [Rogue] Sites to Play a Role in Limiting their Reach.” “Content owners and rights holders must work with rather than against ISPs, payment processors, advertising networks, and search providers to ensure that Internet users are not victimized by those who would take online advantage of them, including purveyors of pirated and counterfeit goods.  But specifically, in the case of websites demonstrated to exist for the purpose of profiting from the distribution of illegal content, it is also not unreasonable to expect those who facilitate access to and commerce with these sites to play a role in limiting their reach.”

PROTECT IP Promises to Accomplish Goals “While Not Burdening Third Parties with Unnecessarily Liability and Compliance Costs.” “Because the final text of the legislation is not yet available, or indeed has yet to be introduced in the House, we can only say that we think the Protect IP Act is on its way to becoming an agreement that accomplishes the important goals outlined earlier while not burdening third parties with unnecessary liability and compliance costs, and we urge all stakeholders to work toward that end.”

The businesses, labor unions, trade associations and others backing this bill come from across the country, across industries, and across the political spectrum. It’s time to enact rogue sites legislation to stand up for American creativity. 

Creating Jobs One Movie at a Time

by TJ Ducklo 09/27/2011 11:46 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

In today’s hard economic times where finding good work is a constant struggle for many Americans, the film industry continues to be a bright spotlight for many. Yesterday we spoke of the tens of thousands of jobs sustained by film and television in New York City but pointed out similar jobs exist all across the country. Today we look at a perfect example of how film production can breathe new economic life into a particular community.

Florida’s Office of Film and Entertainment recently released data detailing the economic impact of the movie Dolphin Tale, which premiered this past weekend and was filmed primarily in Florida’s Pinellas County. According to this study, the film brought $17 million into Florida’s economy during its 55 days of production in 2010, as first reported by The St.Petersberg Times. Of that $17 million, $7.5 million was paid in salaries to the nearly 1300 Floridians who worked as actors, extras, costume designers, makeup artists, set builders, stunt men, and various other behind-the-scenes positions. The remainder went to local businesses for lodging, equipment supplies, careering, dry cleaning and others services provided to the film’s production.

“That’s one thing we like about this industry,” said Florida Film Commissioner Lucia Fishburne. “It crosses over into so many businesses. You've got primary vendors; rental houses; sound stages that you associate with the industry. But you also have — and this is big for our state — everything from sources for lumber like Lowe's or Home Depot, to small mom-and-pop florists and nurseries. You have heavy retail, caterers, restaurants, hotels, all of the things it takes to make a movie.”

The bottom line is this: film production creates jobs, and many states, like Florida, have recognized this and implemented tax incentive programs to spur such grow. A strong, healthy entertainment industry matters to many Americans, not just those of us who enjoy their final product. So if you have a chance to catch Dolphin Tale or another great film at your local theatre, or on television, or through one of the many legal online forums available, do it and support these jobs and what they do for local communities around the United States.

NYC a Major Player in Film and Television

by TJ Ducklo 09/26/2011 12:39 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

New York City may not have a Hollywood sign or the Sunset Strip, but the Big Apple is continuing to be recognized for its contribution to our nation’s film and television industry. Two weeks ago, the NYC mayor’s office announced a contest challenging students to develop a public service announcement intended to raise awareness of content theft and copyright violation on the Internet, emphasizing how such illegal action can impact the jobs of thousands. Yesterday, Crain’s New York Business writer Greg David reinforced this idea,  highlighting how new hit shows like HBO’s Boardwalk Empire and CBS’s The Good Wife are becoming major contributors to solid, middle-class jobs in the area.

The reason why, David writes, is a simple concept with which most Americans will identify: “actors, actresses, directors, and producers want to sleep in their own beds, just like the rest of us.” He goes on to point out that “many shows are set in the city, and producers want authentic backdrops” and that a “state tax credit makes shooting in New York cost-competitive.” David also touts the industry’s resilience in New York City, using the city’s rebound from the canceling of NBC’s Law and Order, a staple New York City show for 20 years, to the emergence of Empire and other programs as evidence that its role as a leader in film and television production is here to stay.  

New York City’s nearly 87,000 television and film related jobs and $7.7 billion in subsequent wages are significant, but New York is far from the only city that plays a noteworthy part in supporting our industry’s jobs. Over 2 million jobs across all 50 states are linked to America’s film and television industry.  As our economy continues to rebuild, each and every one of these jobs is critical not just for the people who hold them, but for their families, neighborhoods, and communities.  After all, the most important characters in any production are the people who make them possible.

First “Operation In Our Sites” Conviction

by Kevin Suh 09/23/2011 17:21 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced today that the founder of, Matthew David Howard Smith, was convicted of conspiracy and criminal copyright infringement. Smith’s conviction is the first pursuant to “Operation In Our Sites.”

Smith admitted to founding where millions of website visitors visited to illegally download copies of movies and television shows.  Since the website’s inception in 2008, Smith and his co-conspirators generated more than half a million dollars in advertising revenue. Smith now faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison for each count.

NinjaVideo was a prime example of these “worst of the worst” rogue websites that victimize not only the buyers of these products, but the over 2 million hardworking Americans whose livelihoods depend on the motion picture and television industry.

We thank ICE Homeland Security Investigations, the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, the Justice Department's Criminal Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia for leading this investigation and applaud the continued success of “Operation In Our Sites.”


Portland, Oregon Reports Jobs Boost

by Jessica Garcia 09/21/2011 14:54 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Portland, Oregon is earning a reputation for more than its roses these days. The Mayor of Portland, Sam Adams, has published a letter to local residents announcing the local economic boost taking effect in the city thanks to film and television production. Television shows like the new Portlandia, TNT’s Leverage, NBC’s upcoming Grimm and Lakeshore Entertainment’s feature film Gone, are all filming in Portland, and in the process, they’re creating hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in economic activity.

“Besides the fact that it’s pretty cool to see our streetscapes on the big screen, there’s another reason why we have a substantial interest in the film and video industry: jobs,” says Mayor Sam Adams. And rightly so. Leverage employs 450 Portland-area workers each season. Grimm is expected to surpass that 450 mark. Portlandia reports that over 90% of its crew consists of local hires. And Gone has employed 210 locals for over 70,000 hours of work.

In addition to creating jobs, productions are also actively feeding money back into the local economy. Mayor Adams reported that between 2007 and 2010, Oregon-based film and television projects have had a direct and indirect impact of $350 million dollars in the state. In 2009, the Portland metropolitan region alone saw $52 million in direct spending through local film productions, totaling a $102 million economic impact for the year. This year continues the upward trend; 2011 is projected to have a $542 million economic impact in Oregon.

As Mayor Adams says, “When the film industry in Portland is busy, Portland is busy.” These figures represent a huge economic gain for the state of Oregon, the city of Portland and the hundreds of local residents employed by local productions. The hundreds of people that work on each production and rely on the motion picture and television industry are proud of their work, and so are we. Together, we make a great partnership for Oregon.

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