The MPAA Joins With CACP to Welcome Secretary Johnson, Encourage Continued Focus on Protecting US Innovation

by MPAA 02/24/2014 14:14 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Today, the Motion Picture Association of America joined with members of the Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy (CACP) to congratulate Secretary Jeh Johnson on his confirmation as the fourth Secretary of Homeland Security.

In a letter to the new Secretary, a diverse group of businesses and trade groups who depend on intellectual property applauded Homeland Security’s past efforts to combat online piracy and the sale of inferior counterfeit goods, and urged the Department to not only continue but to expand their efforts.

Recognizing that over 40 million jobs throughout the United States depend on intellectual property, including the nearly 2 million workers who make up the American film and television industry, the signatories stated that not only do these counterfeit websites mean financial loss for creators; they undermine American businesses’ reputation for quality.  Inferior quality goods also run the risk of injuring consumers.  

Past efforts by Homeland Security, such as the creation of the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) and ICE’s long-running “Operation in Our Sites” program, have been important measures in combating IP theft over the past several years.  The MPAA is eager to continue working with Secretary Johnson and other IP stakeholders to continue existing efforts, creating new programs for combating IP theft and protecting the work of American creators.

A copy of the letter to Secretary Johnson can be found here.

Looking to Watch a Movie or TV Show? There Are Now 100 Legitimate Online Services in the U.S.

by MPAA 02/11/2014 13:25 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

For movie or television fans seeking to watch a new show or revisit their one of their favorites, there is good news in the latest compilation by the MPAA of online services, both here in the United States and throughout the world.

Here at home – there are now 100 online services offering viewers legitimate full-length films and television shows.   And worldwide, there are now at least 413 such services, of which more than 60 of these, such as iTunes and Netflix are available in multiple countries.

In the United States, the MPAA has created a website: www.WhereToWatch.org where viewers can learn – including some well-known sites like Amazon, Target Ticket, Hulu, HBO GO and Crackle, or others that feature more independent fare or shows from other countries, such as FindAnyFilm, FlixHouse, Viewster, and IndieFlix.

One of the more recent highlights in the fourth quarter was the announcement that beginning February 24th, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) will be launching an online streaming service for all of their Pay-Per-View events and original content. The service will first begin here in the United States, before becoming available to international fans in the U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong and the Nordic countries by the end of the year.

Other notable developments that occurred in the last quarter include: the announcement that thirteen world premieres of films from the Toronto Film Festival will be available exclusively on Vimeo for 30 days beginning March 21st; the announcement that Korean-based DramaFever is expanding into children’s content by streaming 12 Korean children’s titles in response to customer demand for kid-friendly content; and the launch of an online cinema providing access to 30 TV series and 10 thousand episodes by Russia’s second largest social network, Odnoklassniki.

The number of innovative online viewing options for audiences around the world continues to expand at an astonishing rate. For consumers who love great film and television shows this is terrific news, but it is also welcome news for creators looking for innovative ways of developing new shows and existing services looking for new means of bringing this content to viewers throughout the world.

 

Search Engines Must Help Curb Piracy

by MPAA 11/14/2013 12:50 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Google has reportedly removed more than 200 million links to allegedly pirated content in 2013 in response to demands from copyright holders – up from 50 million in 2012. 
 
This increase in link takedowns is further evidence of the significant role search engines play in introducing Internet users to infringing content – movies and TV shows that have been stolen and illegally distributed online – and underscores their responsibility to help curb the piracy problem.
 
A study released in September by the MPAA found that 74 percent of consumers surveyed said they used a search engine as a discovery or navigation tool in their initial viewing sessions on sites with infringing content.  And 58 percent of searches that led to infringing content contained only general keywords – such as the titles of recent films or TV shows – and not specific keywords aimed at finding illegitimate content.
 
The study also found that audiences who view infringing content for the first time online are more than twice as likely to use a search engine in their navigation as repeat visitors.
 
We are constantly working to develop new and innovative legitimate platforms that deliver the shows and movies audiences want while ensuring that content creators are compensated for their work.  But as the gateway to the Internet, search engines have a responsibility to not only direct consumers to a high-quality viewing experience but also to adopt effective initiatives to address their role in introducing users to infringing content. 
 
As Rep. Marsha Blackburn said in September: “The question search engines need to answer is this: do they want to be the digital highways for legitimate information, entertainment and education, or do they want to be the get-away car for stolen content and mass exploitation of private property? Leaders in technology innovation are in a unique position to do something serious and they’re being called on to do better.”
 
Of course, search engines can’t solve the piracy problem on their own.  But their influential role in the Internet ecosystem means they share a responsibility to be good actors.  We look forward to continuing to work with search engines to find reasonable solutions that can foster and protect innovation and creativity online.

Floyd Abrams Visits the MPAA to Talk About the Freedom of Speech

by MPAA 10/23/2013 12:26 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Yesterday, renowned First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams came to the Motion Picture Association of America’s office in Washington, D.C. to speak about the ongoing need to promote and protect the right of all Americans to express themselves freely that is enshrined in the First Amendment.
 
The discussion, sponsored by the MPAA and The National Cable & Telecommunications Association, was part of the National Free Speech Week programs going on around the country this week to celebrate and promote this fundamental right.
 
Well known for his Constitutional expertise and characterized as “the most significant First Amendment lawyer of our age,” Mr. Abrams has argued some of the most noteworthy First Amendment cases in the United States Supreme Court in the last four decades from the Pentagon Papers to the ability of  journalists to protect the identities of their confidential sources.
 
Over the course of the nearly hour long discussion that was moderated by Barbara Cochran, the Curtis B. Hurley Chair in Public Policy Journalism at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Mr. Abrams talked about the current state of Free Speech in America, saying that right now “it’s pretty good times,” because “we have a Supreme Court that is especially protective of First Amendment rights.”
 
He also went on to say that things have never been “more democratic in the sense of open to the world, free, unedited, and available to the public at large. Never had we had that sort of ability for individuals to have their say” that exists today thanks to the enormous leaps forward that have been made technologically in recent years.
 
But with the growing ability to not only express yourself through online avenues such as Facebook and Twitter also comes a growing ability to steal from others.  The idea of copyright and the Copyright Act exist to protect peoples’ artistic creations.  According to Abrams, “the whole theory of the Copyright Act is to encourage the arts,” and when those works are threatened he says that “it is constitutional in some cases to get a restraint on the use of someone else’s work” in order to protect it. 

Barbara Cochran and Floyd Abrams

Photo Credit: Joy Asico

Michael Lynton On The Revolution In TV Viewing And Production

by MPAA 10/04/2013 13:43 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Yesterday, the BBC posted an interview with Michael Lynton, CEO, Sony Entertainment, Chairman and CEO, Sony Pictures Entertainment, discussing the revolution in TV viewing and production that has occurred thanks to the explosion in online video services.

According to Lynton, with “more platforms getting involved,” it “has actually improved the quality of television.” And he attributes that improvement in quality to the ability of audiences to now watch, and catch up on their favorite television programs at their own pace thanks to new technology.  

Gone are the days of viewers giving up on a series after missing one or two episodes and getting lost in the plot.  Today, “catch-up television” through DVRs, on-demand, and streaming services ensures audiences can go back to watch episodes of shows they’ve missed.

At this moment there are 95 legal online streaming services available in the United States giving audiences the ability to stay up to date on their favorite shows. All of which can be found on the MPAA’s new site, http://wheretowatch.org

These services, according to Lynton, are what are improving the quality of today’s television programs.  They allow the creators and storytellers to bring us bolder and increasingly complex stories through longer arcs. And that ability to tell richer stories is drawing new voices and top talent – both in front of and behind the screen – to television.

Michael Lynton isn’t the only one who credits the multitude of available streaming services for the changing landscape of television. Vince Gilligan, the man who gave the world one of the most critically-acclaimed television series with Breaking Bad, was quoted in a recent Variety article as saying. “I’ve got to think a big part of what has changed is streaming video on demand, particularly with operations like Netflix, iTunes and Amazon Prime… It’s a new era in television, and we’ve been very fortunate to reap the benefits.”

Right now, Lynton believes we are in the midst of a television renaissance, and it’s his expectation that the types of programs we watch will only continue getting better.  For all the viewers out there going through withdrawal after last week’s Breaking Bad finale, that is definitely good news.    

AEI Praises "The Exploding Diversity of Content and Platform Choices"

by MPAA 09/19/2013 15:21 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Earlier today, Bret Swanson, President of the strategic research firm Entropy Economics LLC, posted a piece looking at the explosion in online video services that has occurred in recent years, and what it means for both content creators and viewers. Featured prominently in the story is an infographic from a post last month on the MPAA’s blog highlighting the 95 legal online services available in the United States for watching your favorite movies and TV shows.

Swanson points to “the exploding diversity of content and platform choices, and growing access to both.” He goes on to state that this growth in innovative online services “argues for policies that allow for as much technological and business model experimentation as possible.”

Swanson posted his piece on the American Enterprise Institute’s new policy blog TechPolicyDaily.com. The AEI, a well-known and respected think tank in Washington, D.C., has just launched a new Center for Internet, Communications, and Technology Policyto advance policies that encourage innovation, competition, liberty, and growth, creating a positive agenda centered around human freedom.”

Leading this new center is Jeffrey Eisenach, an economist who previously worked at the Federal Trade Commission, and the Kennedy School of Government; and James Glassman, founding Executive Director of the George W. Bush Institute is joining as a visiting fellow. TechPolicyDaily.com will be key to the new center’s work, and will feature Mr. Eisenach, Mr. Glassman, and various scholars and policy experts.

With articles such as this one, the American Enterprise Institute and the Center for Internet, Communications, and Technology Policy are looking to make their mark on the ongoing discussion of tech policy and are a very welcomed voice.

MPAA Hosts Screening and Discussion of “Wadjda”

by MPAA 09/18/2013 12:19 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Last week, the MPAA and Sony Pictures Classics co-hosted a screening of Wadjda, the first full-length feature to be filmed entirely inside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The screening was followed by a discussion with the writer and director, Haifaa Al Mansour, Saudi Arabia’s first female filmmaker and moderated by Elise Labott, foreign affairs correspondent for CNN. Al Mansour is an award-winning director whose voice is an inspiration within a challenging culture for women. The film is a close-up view of the daily struggles Saudi women face in a society designed to keep them silent.

Wadjda is a young school girl full of irrepressible spirit who strains against traditional rules by hatching various schemes to raise money to buy a bicycle. Even after repeated reprimands and threats of punishment from teachers and family, she continues her quest. “I have a niece, she is very bright and always wanted to do things, but her family is traditional and as she grew older wanted her to stay at home like everyone else,” said Al Mansour. “I based the story around her.”

Wadjda has won numerous awards at film festivals around the world, including the Toronto, Venice, Tribeca, Dubai and Los Angeles Film Festivals. The discussion following the screening focused on the intense isolation that Saudi women face and the small and growing ways with which they push back against their constraints. Al Mansour described some of those efforts since her upbringing in a small village, “Change is happening on a small level and that change is spiraling outward to society.”

Although Al Mansour grew up in a more liberal family, her world was confined to a small village until her father introduced her to the medium of film. Al Mansour watched many movies with her family as a child and discovered a world that she could have never dreamt of. “I fell in love with the medium and eventually learned to use it as my voice and my way to vent.” After the screening, Labott reflected that Al Mansour had “laid out the story with heart and soul and humanity.”

 

From Left to Right: Elise Labott and Haifaa Al Mansour

 

Haifaa Al Mansour

Photo Credit: Joy Asico

MPAA Hosts USIP and Sony Pictures Classics for Screening of "The Patience Stone"

by MPAA 07/30/2013 07:11 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Last week, the MPAA hosted a screening of what promises to be one of this year’s most intense, thought-provoking foreign language films, The Patience Stone. The film follows the growth of an unnamed woman played by the versatile actress, Golshifteh Farahani and the evolution of her relationship with a comatose husband. Sony Pictures Classics and the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) partnered with the MPAA for a discussion after the screening focused on how civilians survive life in conflict zones.

The Patience Stone is designed to challenge our thinking about gender roles and the effects of conflicts on civilians.  Through the film, we see the author-turned-director Atiq Rhahimi explore the impact of war, violence and tradition on the unnamed Muslim woman.

In remarks before the screening, Sheldon Himelfarb, the Director of both the Media, Conflict, and Peacebuilding Center of Innovation and the Science, Technology, and Peacebuilding Center of Innovation at USIP, highlighted the importance of films like The Patience Stone, An Inconvenient Truth, and Waiting for Superman as mechanisms for social change.

After the film, an eye-opening panel, moderated by Kathleen Kuehnast, the Director for the Center for Gender and Peacebuilding at USIP, reflected on the social relevancy and intensity of the film. In the panel, Hossai Wardak, an Afghani scholar who is a visiting Afghanistan expert at USIP, attested to the reality of the film: “As someone who actually grew up in a conflict zone, as someone who actually worked in a conflict zone, whatever you see in this film is actually matching a reality on the ground.”

The story of repressed emotions, frustrations, and suffering of women and men in conflict areas applies to a myriad of places in the world. The other panelist, Gary Barker, spoke to this broad applicability, saying, “[The film] brought to mind several impressions and memories of young men that we’ve interviewed and worked with…in Brazil.” Barker is the Executive Director of Promundo-U, an international organization that advocates for gender equality by educating men and young boys.

Sony Pictures Classics has a long track record of finding critically acclaimed foreign language films and bringing them to a larger audience in the United States, and this is no exception. The Patience Stone has already won Best Picture in both the Abu Dhabi and Eurasia Film Festivals.

The Patience Stone is slated for a limited release in the United States on August 14th.  

 


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