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New Consumer Education Center on Impact of Content Theft Unveiled Today
Author:  Michael O'Leary
Date:  07/07/2011

If you knew that something you were doing was hurting someone else, you’d stop, right? 

Of course – it’s not even a question.  That’s why we think the real key to stopping content theft is information. 

Too many people in America don’t realize that bootleg videos and other forms of content theft hurt millions of people in all 50 states whose jobs are supported by the film, television, and music industries, and who rely on revenues from the movies, TV, and music to make a living or save for retirement.  These are the people whose names you see at the end of the closing credits, not on the posters in the lobby – people who often work job to job and whose livelihoods are seriously threatened by the wholescale theft of their creations. 

Internet users aren’t always aware of the increasingly sophisticated, global nature of content theft.  Websites that offer up stolen content are often based overseas.  Sometimes, these sites are so deceptively designed that users think they are legitimate, and don’t realize that they benefit criminals rather than the people who made the film or TV show or song to begin with.

Many people don’t recognize that downloading or streaming an illegitimate copy of a movie is just as wrong as stealing a DVD from the local video store – they’re just different kinds of theft.  Or a parent who owns an Internet account may not know that his teenager is using it to download unauthorized music or videos.

But we believe strongly that once people do realize those things, they’ll stop – and look for legitimate ways to watch and listen.  People want to do the right thing, and it always helps to make doing the right thing just a little easier.

That’s the thinking behind a new joint venture we’re launching today, in partnership with the music industry and Internet service providers.  We are different organizations with different interests, but we’re coming together because the problem of content theft is so enormous and so costly to our economy that it demands a collaborative, constructive solution.  To learn more about content theft and ways you can avoid it, visit CopyrightInformation.org.

One important element in the development of this agreement is a new Center for Copyright Information that will help educate consumers, more effectively than we’ve done before, on the importance of copyright and the impact of content theft.  The Center will provide Internet users with information and resources on a myriad of topics, including demonstrating the serious threat of content theft to the millions of jobs sustained by industries that depend on the protection of copyright and intellectual property and to the economy. 

Just as important, the Center will point consumers towards legitimate ways to watch movies and listen to music online.  According to a recent survey, 13 percent of adult Americans – 29 million people – have downloaded or watched unauthorized movies or TV shows over the Internet.  As Julia blogged this morning, there are more options than ever before to get movies and TV shows online safely and legitimately.  This new center will help consumers find them more quickly and easily, so they can keep watching and listening to the entertainment they enjoy. 

This new center will also help develop best practices for a new system of Copyright Alerts, messages similar to credit card fraud alerts that will make Internet subscribers aware that their accounts may be being used for content theft and help them identify ways to stop it.  It will benefit from guidance from consumer advocates and technical experts.

We’re excited about this new development and the ways we think the Center will help consumers and the economy.