Hollywood Circles Wagons Against Content Theft

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Hollywood’s wagons are circling against content theft with a new coalition, Creative America, to fight piracy and protect creative works and jobs.

The entertainment industry coalition states “that halting the looting of America’s creative works and protecting jobs must be a national priority.”

Statistics cited on the group’s homepage:

  • Websites trafficking in stolen film and TV content get nearly 150 million visits every day, more than 50 billion visits per year. 
  • Content theft isn’t just about movies. TV shows are illegally streamed and downloaded millions of times each week.  
  • Content theft threatens over 2 million jobs supported by the film and televisio n industry in all 50 states and D.C. 
  • The vast majority of workers in film and TV are middle class, earning $55K a year on average. These are the people hurt by content theft.  
  • Content theft has already cost 140,000 U.S. jobs, along with $5 billion in wages and revenues for residuals and pensions. 

The founding members — including NBC Universal, SAG, Sony Pictures Entertainment, AFTRA, CBS, the DGA, IATSE, Twentieth Century Fox, Viacom, Disney and Warner Bros. — call themselves a “grassroots organization” supporting 2 million Americans whose jobs are in creative fields.[more]

“No matter what your job title is, whether you’re a union or guild member, whether you’re on the set or in an office, on this critical issue of content protection, we must be absolutely united,” said Debbie Uyeda, manager of Inventory Operations at Paramount Pictures. “Creative America gives everyone who cares about protecting American jobs and fostering creativity a strong new voice.”

The organization is lobbying for support of a Congressional bill, the Protect IP Act, which aims to combat foreign trafficking in stolen movies, television shows and other intellectual property. The statement on the coalition’s website in support of the legislation, which would empower the Justice Dept. to pursue foreign websites that illegally distribute copyright-protected content, reads: “We’re in this for the long haul. But right now, the U.S. Senate is considering legislation that could make a real difference in the fight against content theft by giving U.S. law enforcement the authority to shut down foreign websites that traffic stolen American movies and TV shows.”

That proposed bill has drawn ire from 109 intellectual property scholars who sent a letter of opposition to Congress that reads in part, “Although the problems the act attempts to address — online copyright and trademark infringement — are serious ones presenting new and difficult enforcement challenges, the approach taken in the act has grave constitutional infirmities, potentially dangerous consequences for the stability and security of the Internet’s addressing system and will undermine United States foreign policy and strong support of free expression on the Internet around the world.”

“When the movies and TV shows that we create and finance are stolen, there is a ripple effect throughout our business. As revenue is lost, inevitably less money is available for new production,” said film director Jonathan Mostow in a statement.

According to a February 2011 Frontier Economics study, sent by the DGA to its members, “The cost of digital piracy … is conservatively estimated to be worth $75 billion (annually).”

To be sure, digital piracy is a growing problem and inevitable collateral in a world where digital conveyance knows no natural boundaries, although there are inevitably fears that any pursuit of piracy will breach consumer privacy.

As BoingBoing notes, the Electronic Frontier Foundation is concerned about another entertainment industry coalition this week, representing major studios and content creators banding together with ISPs (including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Verizon, AT&T and other US broadband  service providers) to crack down on who they define as copyright offenders with alerts and aggressive warnings.

As they say in Hollywood, stay tuned.

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