PROTECT IP Support Strengthens

by Jessica Garcia 08/04/2011 06:20 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

We’re excited to see U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) and John McCain (R-AZ) become the latest Senators to add their names to the PROTECT IP Act, legislation that will help protect the jobs and livelihoods of over 2 million Americans whose jobs are supported by the film and television industry.

The motion picture and television industry is responsible for over 30,000 jobs in Colorado, 17,000 jobs in Maryland and 22,000 jobs in Arizona. Foreign rogue websites pose a threat to each one of these jobs by profiting from the sale of stolen content and draining our economy of billions of dollars annually. The PROTECT IP Act will help to deter, prevent and root out websites that harm thousands of honest workers.

The sponsor list for PROTECT IP continues to grow as the need to protect the jobs supported by creative industries becomes more apparent. We are now 28 Senators strong.

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

Categories: Policy

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Report from the Storefront Lines: Van Nuys Shop Frames the Movies

by Alex Swartsel 08/03/2011 08:37 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

We talk a lot about the tens of thousands of small businesses all over the country that support film and television production – companies in all kinds of lines of work, from drycleaners to caterers, who count the motion picture industry as one of their many clients. 

Today, we got a closer look into one of those businesses, courtesy of the Los Angeles Times.  The Company Town blog has a fascinating story about the U-Frame-It custom framing shop on Sherman Way in Van Nuys, in business since 1988, and the enormous impact of the film industry on its longevity and success. 

Together with her five employees, owner Adriana Cruz has produced frames and cases for films and TV shows including The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Spider-Man 3, CSI, True Blood, and Chicago Hope

“Catering to Hollywood has become an increasingly vital source of income to small business owners like Cruz, who have been buffeted by a deep recession and an anemic recovery that has kept ma[n]y consumers from buying discretionary items like picture frames,”  the Times wrote.

“If it wasn’t for the film and TV business, we would be in hot water,” Cruz told the Times – a whopping 75% of her annual revenues come from film production, and she says California’s film tax credit program has helped push her sales up 15% over last year.  The Times reported that even though U-Frame-It’s consumer retail business has fallen by half since 2008, its earnings from movie and TV productions have filled the gap.

It’s a nice reminder that in tough economic times, going to the movies doesn’t just lift our spirits – for many small businesses, it helps lift the bottom line.

Content Theft: The Clock is Ticking

by Jessica Garcia 08/03/2011 06:26 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Great movies can take anywhere from months to years to make.  They take the work of hundreds of people – in front of the camera and behind it, in editing rooms and at high-powered computer terminals, on big city streets and wide, empty deserts – shooting and putting together a film that will make millions of us cry, or laugh, or see our world differently.

Movies take enormous amounts of time and effort to make – and no time at all to steal.

You may not know that:

A few days after a U.S. film has been released in theaters anywhere in the world, an illegal copy is available on the Internet.*

Within two weeks of theatrical release, millions of copies of a major title have been downloaded.*

In 1 minute, on average, someone is able to locate an infringing film or TV show online.*

In 94 minutes, he or she can download a copy of that stolen movie.* 

Or in just 3 minutes, it’s ready to be streamed.*

The PROTECT IP Act is aimed at stopping foreign rogue websites that traffic in stolen films, TV shows and other American-made creative content. Because the over two million Americans whose jobs are supported by the movie and television business deserve better than to see their months or years of hard work stolen in mere minutes.
 
Want to help spread the word?  Use the links below to share this fact about content theft with your friends on Facebook or your followers on Twitter.  

*Source: Envisional, 2011

Pharmaceuticals Warn Consumers on the Dangers of Rogue Websites

by Jessica Garcia 08/02/2011 09:12 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) has published alarming findings on the dangers of rogue websites. The new report, The Internet Drug Outlet Identification Program Progress Report for State and Federal Regulators: July 2011, found that out of 8,000 websites selling prescription drugs, 96% do not comply with United States pharmacy laws, facilitate prescription drug abuse and misuse, and provide an outlet for counterfeit medicines to enter the US drug supply. NABP has issued a public health alert in response to the report findings:

“The fake online pharmacy crisis has reached an epidemic level – they prey on prescription drug abusers and the most vulnerable members of society who rely on medicine every day for their health,” said NABP President Malcolm J. Broussard, RPh. “They offer easy access to potent medicines without a prescription and indiscriminately push dangerous counterfeit drugs. This problem poses a clear danger to Americans’ health and safety and weakens the essential relationships between pharmacists and patients. By issuing a public health alert, we are calling on pharmacists, physicians, and other health professionals to educate their patients about the growing public health threat posed by these illegal online enterprises.”

This report is a troubling reminder that rogue sites aren’t just illegal – too often, they are dangerous.  And as we saw in this video from FightOnlineTheft.com, counterfeit drugs purchased from rogue sites can even be fatal. 

From malware and identify theft to and counterfeit prescription medicines, rogue sites are clearly a serious threat to health and safety.  This is yet another reason why we need legislation like the PROTECT IP Act to protect the American people against those who threaten our safety for a profit.

 

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Federal judge grants injunction against Zediva

by Ben Sheffner 08/01/2011 18:29 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Stating that its “service threatens the development of a successful and lawful video-on-demand market,” federal Judge John F. Walter today granted the MPAA member studios' motion for a preliminary injunction against the operators of Zediva, an unlicensed video-on-demand service that the studios sued for copyright infringement in April 2011. The following is a statement by Dan Robbins, Senior Vice President and Associate General Counsel for the MPAA, in response to the ruling in Los Angeles:

“Judge Walter’s decision is a great victory for the more than two million American men and women whose livelihoods depend on a thriving film and television industry.  Judge Walter rejected Zediva’s argument that it was ‘renting’ movies to its users, and ruled, by contrast, that Zediva violated the studios’ exclusive rights to publicly perform their movies, such as through authorized video-on-demand services.

“Movie fans today have more on-demand options than ever for watching films at home, from iTunes to Netflix to Amazon to Vudu to Hulu to the VOD offerings from cable and satellite operators. All these legitimate companies have obtained licenses from the copyright owners. The court found Zediva’s service threatened the development of these lawful VOD and Internet-based services.”

Background: Zediva is an unlicensed video-on-demand service that streams movies over the Internet from its Silicon Valley data center. The MPAA’s six member studios sued WTV Systems, the parent company of Zediva, and Venkatesh Srinivasan, Zediva’s founder and CEO, on April 4, 2011, and filed their motion for a preliminary injunction on May 26. The studios’ lawsuit alleged that Zediva violated the studios’ exclusive right to publicly perform their movies under Section 106(4) of the Copyright Act. Following the issuance of the preliminary injunction, the case will now proceed toward a final resolution.

Here is the MPAA's set of FAQs on the case.

Creative Industries Welcome Landmark Case to Block Newzbin2

by Howard Gantman 07/28/2011 07:37 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Great news in London today!  A High Court judge ruled that British Telecom (BT) must block access to Newzbin2, a notorious site that links to thousands of stolen movies, television programs, games, music and books in direct violation of a previous order against it.

The ruling had been sought by the Motion Picture Association (MPA), supported by the creative industries in the United Kingdom to prevent Newzbin2 from using BT’s internet service to make money through copyright theft.  An estimated 700,000 members use the Newzbin service, generating the operators in excess of $1.6 million US dollars profit off stolen content a year.

Chris Marcich, President and Managing Director, of our sister organization’s European office, said:

“This ruling from Justice Arnold is a victory for millions of people working in the UK creative industries and demonstrates that the law of the land must apply online. This court action was never an attack on ISPs but we do need their cooperation to deal with the Newzbin site which continually tries to evade the law and judicial sanction. Newzbin is a notorious pirate website which makes hundreds of thousands of copyrighted products available without permission and with no regard for the law.”

And Christine Payne, Chair of the Creative Coalition Campaign, a partnership of trade unions representing workers in the creative industries and organizations in music, film, TV, publishing and sports in the UK, said:
“Thousands of businesses and millions of workers now know that the law of the land applies to the internet.  Online copyright theft deprives businesses of up to 20% of their revenues every year.  Finally, this little known law will help us to protect our property.”

In his ruling, Justice Arnold stated:

“In my judgment it follows that BT has actual knowledge of other persons using its service to infringe copyright: it knows that the users and operators of Newbin2 infringe copyright on a large scale, and in particular infringe the copyrights of the Studios in large numbers of their films and television programmes, it knows that the users of Newzbin2 include BT subscribers, and it knows those users use its service to receive infringing copies of copyright works made available to them by Newzbin2.” 

This is a significant judgment that reflects a clear recognition that under the existing law, Courts can issue orders to prevent illegal activity online. It rejects BT arguments that they have no responsibility to act against copyright theft and states that the order is proportionate.

This comprehensive and unequivocal judgment sets a clear legal precedent which will enable content creators and distributors to secure greater cooperation from ISPs in the UK to address content theft on the internet and in particular to deal with websites that are focused on wholesale copyright theft.

In the end, to effectively fight content theft all the players in the Internet ecosystem – creators, ISPs, pay processors, advertisers, Internet users and more – need to work together to keep rogue sites from reaching and profiting from the global marketplace.  This judgment recognizes that.

Pittsburgh Transforms into Gotham City

by Jessica Garcia 07/27/2011 09:44 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania will transform into Gotham City when Magnus Rex begins local filming this week. Magnus Rex, the third installment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, will feature local attractions including Heinz Field, Downtown, Carnegie Mellon University and plenty of opportunities for Pittsburghers to witness a little bit of staged mayhem.

This Warner Bros. film is causing quite the stir as the largest production ever to be filmed in Pittsburgh. The local economic impact of Magnus Rex will undoubtedly be sizable: according to the Pittsburgh Business Times, many local businesses and up to 10,000 extras will be employed to help with the needs of the production.

The motion picture and television industry already makes a major impact in Pennsylvania, accounting for 18,181 production and distribution-related jobs and $756.3 million in wages as of 2009.

Gotham City may be known for its crime and corruption, but this week Gotham City is bringing in millions of dollars and thousands of jobs to Pittsburgh.

New White House Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime Highlights IP Theft as a Threat to U.S. Competitiveness, Health, and Safety

by Alex Swartsel 07/25/2011 15:11 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

It’s troubling to think that buying a bootleg DVD or some other counterfeit product – whether intentionally or unintentionally – could support the same criminal groups that engage in public corruption, human trafficking, narcotics, and cybercrime.  But a report out from the Obama Administration today underscores that that is, in fact, a very real concern.

The White House today released a new National Security Council Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime, the product of a comprehensive study and interagency dialogue on the threat posed by organized criminal networks operating across borders.

The strategy highlighted intellectual property theft and noted that the dollar value of counterfeit goods seized by customs at U.S. ports and mail facilities doubled between 2003 and 2010, from $94 million to $188 million. 

In an Executive Order declaring the threat of organized crime to be a national emergency, President Obama wrote: “Significant transnational criminal organizations that … engage in the theft of intellectual property not only erode U.S. competitiveness, but also endanger the public health and safety through the distribution of tainted and counterfeit goods.”

The strategy includes commitments from the Administration to:

  • Prioritize “us[e of] the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, an interagency and international law enforcement task force established in 2000 and led by ICE, to assist with combating intellectual property theft and maintaining the integrity of public health, public safety, the military, and the U.S. economy,”
  • “[P]lace special emphasis on IPR violations and cybercrimes due to their particular impact on the economy and consumer health and safety,” and
  • “Implement the Administration’s joint strategic plan on intellectual property enforcement to target, investigate, and prosecute intellectual property crimes committed by TOC.”


Good for the Administration for calling attention to the connections between intellectual property theft and organized crime, and for reiterating the government’s pledge to take action. 


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