Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Film and TV Piracy

Film and TV piracy is theft, no one disputes that, but I was blind to how out of hand the piracy dilemma has become.  Before this assignment, I didn’t think it was a huge issue, my thoughts were who cares if the film and movie stars get a little money taken from them via piracy of their work, they seem to have enough money as it is.  I could not have been more wrong.  I didn’t realize the toll that film and TV piracy takes on the blue collar workers behind the scenes of the TV and film industries.  The motion picture industry supports 2.4 million American jobs and contributes to nearly 80 billion dollars each year to the economy, but due to piracy of the industries work, more than 46,000 jobs have been lost.  Film and TV piracy also hurts tens of thousands of people who work behind the scenes by taking away from their health and retirement plans because a substantial portion of these plans comes from the second market revenue, which is the revenue generated from foreign distribution, DVD sales, and airings on TV of their work/creations. 
Government and media industries across the globe are working on ways to deal with this problem of film and TV piracy.  In America, President Obama established the Intellectual Property Enforcement Advisory Committee, whose goal, according to Vice President Biden, is to ensure that “innovative ideas and creative products reach their full potential without being stolen, co-opted, or quite frankly, compromised.”  Thanks to this committee, warrants have been issued to seize over 60 domain names of websites that are engaging in TV and film theft.  In the UK, the Federation Against Copyright Theft (Fact), has been created, and was actually able to successfully prosecute Anston Vickerman, which resulted in him being sentenced to 4 years in prison for operating surfthechannel.com, a website linked to pirated films and TV shows.  Australia has also taken steps to deal with the issue of piracy of films and TV shows by developing AFACT, or Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft.  AFACT has recently launched a campaign with the slogan “What are you actually burning?” in response to a study showing film and TV piracy rips 230 million dollars out of the Australian economy each year.

Some argue that piracy is here to stay; they say that it is impossible to stop and the government and media industries lose millions of dollars trying.  One argument is that the businesses affected should embrace piracy and change their business models to compete with the pirates on the web.  What should we do, should we try to fight it or should embrace it?   


Film Piracy is Robbing American Workers
Intellectual Property Enforcement Advisory Committee
Internet Piracy: Embrace or Die

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