The four countries have the dubious distinction today of returning to the 2014 Country Watch List created by the International Creativity and Theft-Prevention Caucus, the new name for the Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus. The group created its Watch List “to alert those who are profiting by stealing the hard work of American creators and the countries helping them that we are paying attention and we expect our trading partners to protect intellectual property rights,” says Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.).
Except for Switzerland, the countries on the list also were cited on the U.S. Trade Representative’s Priority Watch List of havens for copyright violators. The Caucus put Switzerland on its list in 2012 following a court decision there that “rendered it virtually impossible for rights holders to bring actions against large scale peer-to-peer infringers,” it says. It also urged the USTR to consider adding the country to its list. The Caucus says that Italy and The Philippines are making progress. Although “the overall level of online piracy in Italy remains high,” regulations adopted in December “for the first time provide an expedited notice-and-takedown procedure for rights holders.” And The Philipines “has made substantial strides” to combat piracy.
What a week it’s been for Popcorn Time. On Monday Time magazine put a spotlight on the Argentina-based torrent organizer, saying that although it has “shown that movie piracy can be intuitive and user-friendly….as a free, open-source project, it’s going to be tough to take down.” A torrent of stories followed (including here, here, and here) noting the movies Popcorn Time offered for free — including Frozen, American Hustle, Gravity — and comparing it to Netflix. But on Wednesday, Kim Dotcom’s Mega stopped hosting Popcorn Time saying it violated the terms of service. And today, it’s history. The anonymous organizers shut the operation, they say in a post, “Not because we ran out of energy, commitment, focus or allies. But because we need to move on with our lives. Our experiment has put us at the doors of endless debates about piracy and copyright, legal threats and the shady machinery that makes us feel in danger for doing what we love. And that’s not a battle we want a place in.”
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If the MPAA was less diplomatic, it might have headlined its response to the Obama administration’s latest anti-piracy initiative, “Are You Kidding Me?” Even without the direct language, the studio lobby made it clear that it believes U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel served up thin gruel yesterday when she teamed with tech companies to promote voluntary best practices to reduce the flow of ad dollars to sites that traffic in pirated content. MPAA chief Chris Dodd called it “an incremental step forward that addresses only a narrow subset of the problem” and places “disproportionate amount of the burden on rights holders”. The response was a bit of a surprise: Just last month the MPAA praised the administration when it released its Joint Strategic Plan On Intellectual Property Enforcement, which called for voluntary initiatives to fight piracy. That was far less than Hollywood wanted last year when it lobbied Congress to pass tough anti-piracy legislation. Read More »
UPDATE, 6:11 PM: SAG-AFTRA has released a statement saying it “commends the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator and the Administration” for their continued efforts to combat piracy. You can read the complete statement at the bottom of the post.
PREVIOUS: The White House says that it will help tech companies, studios and others to come up with voluntary initiatives to fight piracy, part of a broader effort to attack the problem in the Joint Strategic Plan On Intellectual Property Enforcement out today. That’s far less than Hollywood wanted last year when it lobbied Congress to pass tough anti piracy legislation. But having lost that fight, MPAA chief Chris Dodd says today that he welcomes Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel’s initiatives. ”We share with this Administration a commitment to promoting and protecting American intellectual property by opening new markets to US Products, educating the public about both the value of IP industries and the damage done by theft from those industries and encouraging voluntary best practices among private sector companies that have key responsibilities in the internet landscape.” The White House plan also calls for efforts to improve transparency in policy making, assess the economic impact of “intellectual property-intensive industries,” educate authors about the “fair use” doctrine, and consider the establishment of a copyright and patent “small claims” court. The MPAA says that intellectual property industries accounted for about 34.8% of the gross domestic product and “there is much more to … Read More »
U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen in Virginia sentenced Jeramiah Perkins, the head of the IMAGINE Group, to 60 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and an order to pay $15,000 in restitution. And Hollywood’s chief lobby group says that’s justice delivered. IMAGINE “was responsible for more than 40% of all English-language theatrical movie theft,” says MPAA spokesperson Kate Bedingfield. “This group was the most prolific English-language movie theft group in history, and shutting it down was a huge step forward in helping to reassure consumers that the movies and TV shows they watch online are legitimate and secure, not stolen. This was a significant victory in the effort to protect the hard work of creators online, and in the effort to protect an internet that works for everyone.” Read More »
Just like it did for the Republicans during their convention last week, the MPAA has given the thumbs up to the Democrats for their stance on intellectual property and Internet freedom. This comes as the Democrats kick off their three day convention in Charlotte, NC today. “The administration is vigorously protecting U.S. intellectual property….As technology advances, we will continue to work with all stakeholders to protect the security of the nation and its knowledge assets, U.S. intellectual property, the functioning of fair and competitive markets, and the privacy, free expression, and due process rights of Americans,” says the Democrats’ platform, released today. On the issue of Internet freedom, the DNC platform says the party wants “to preserve the Internet as a platform for commerce, debate, learning, and innovation in the 21st century, we successfully negotiated international Internet policymaking principles, support the current multi-stakeholder approach to Internet governance, and oppose the extension of intergovernmental controls over the Internet.”
The 2012 election is the first time that both the Democrats and the GOP have included mention of Internet freedom in their platforms. They also reflect the difference between the two major parties, with the Democrats wanting government to be the protector of privacy rights, while Republicans want less regulation and federal “overreach,” as they said in their platform last week.
Chris Dodd today issued this statement today about the Dems’ plank:
“I am extremely pleased that the Democratic Party’s platform language reinforces the
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Freelancer Cari Lynn is contributing to Deadline’s coverage.
Add the News Corp COO to the list of Big Media execs who believe that they were simply misunderstood in the debate that led Congress to put aside the Hollywood supported anti-piracy bills. “Clearly this got turned upside down, the whole issue,” he said at a conference sponsored by All Things D. Despite the claims of opponents, including those in the tech industry, the proposals empowering the government to block overseas Web pirates “isn’t about censorship…If they did it in the U.S., they’d be shut down. So they moved it offshore. You should still be able to shut them down.” He seemed to take a subtle dig at the MPAA for not making the industry’s case more effectively as opponents turned the issue into a populist crusade. ”If you look at what went on, you’d say that was not a process to replicate,” Carey says. The creative community didn’t ”anticipate the viral aspect and message getting twisted.” Read More »
Incredibly, there’s still some chatter in the infotainment lobbying community about launching another effort this year to pass tough anti-piracy legislation — even though lawmakers decided more than a week ago to scuttle the Senate’s Protect IP Act (PIPA) and the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). After all, the thinking goes, even people who opposed the Hollywood-endorsed bills agree that the piracy problem needs to be addressed. The idea is to come up with a more palatable version of the proposals, and then try to gain traction with the public by running ads featuring A-list stars talking about how a new law would protect U.S. jobs. But don’t worry. Cooler heads probably will prevail as it sinks in that 2012 won’t be the year when Congress will adopt a variation of Hollywood’s proposal to let the government block overseas sites that traffic in pirated content. Read More »
Here’s one reason why the MPAA and other lobbyists may have felt blindsided last week by the outpouring of protests against the Hollywood supported anti-piracy bills: Young people cared about the subject far, far more than the rest of the population did, according to a weekly measurement by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. The researchers found that 23% of people between ages 18 and 29 tracked the news about the debate over the Senate’s Protect IP Act and the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act more than any other story — making it No. 1 for the week for this group. By contrast, just 7% of all adults considered the dispute, which resulted in Wikipedia going dark for a day, to be the week’s biggest news. For them it ranked behind the Italian cruise ship accident, the elections, and the economy. Read More »
Here’s MPAA CEO Chris Dodd’s response to Sen. Harry Reid’s decision this morning to postpone the vote planned for next week on the Protect IP Act:
“We applaud those leaders in Washington who have chosen to stand with the millions of hard working Americans all across this nation whose livelihoods are threatened by foreign criminal websites designed to steal. As a consequence of failing to act, there will continue to be a safe haven for foreign thieves; American jobs will continue to be lost; and consumers will continue to be exposed to fraudulent and dangerous products peddled by foreign criminals.
With today’s announcement, we hope the dynamics of the conversation can change and become a sincere discussion about how best to protect the millions of American jobs affected by the theft of American intellectual property. The threat posed by these criminal operations has been widely acknowledged by even the most ardent critics. It is incumbent that they now sincerely work with all of us to achieve a meaningful solution to this critically important goal.”
Internet Blackout: 7,000 Sites Join Wikipedia
There’s still some life in the Hollywood-backed proposals that would empower the government to block overseas websites that traffic in pirated content. But it seems to be ebbing fast: Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Misouri), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and John Cornyn (R-Tex.) dropped off the list of likely supporters of the Protect IP Act, which is due to come up for a vote in their chamber next week. They and other lawmakers backed away on a day when websites and individual protesters coordinated their attacks on the proposal, which they say could dangerously chill Web speech and commerce. Blunt, who co-sponsored the Protect IP Act, said on Facebook that it ”is flawed as it stands today, and I cannot support it moving forward.” Rubio, another co-sponsor, also used the social networking site to say that he has “decided to withdraw my support” while urging Majority Leader Harry Reid to ”abandon his plan to rush the bill to the floor” and “come up with new legislation that addresses Internet piracy while protecting free and open access to the Internet.” Meanwhile, Cornyn co-signed a letter to Reid saying that “the process at this point is moving too quickly,” making a planned vote next week ”premature.” Meanwhile in the House Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.) and Lee Terry (R-Neb.) withdrew as co-sponsors of a similar bill known as the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). That bill is due to be marked up by the House Judiciary Committee next month. Read More »
The Hollywood lobby group has finally weighed in on the plan by Wikipedia and others to go dark tomorrow to protest the MPAA-supported anti-piracy bills in Congress. The money quote is at the end: CEO Chris Dodd says he hopes that “the White House and the Congress will call on those who intend to stage this ‘blackout’ to stop the hyperbole and PR stunts and engage in meaningful efforts to combat piracy.” The House’s Stop Online Piracy Act and the Senate’s Protect IP Act would empower the government to block overseas sites that traffic in pirated content. The MPAA says that will save U.S. jobs. But tech companies say officials might abuse their power by using it to punish legitimate sites.
Here’s the full MPAA statement:
WASHINGTON —The following is a statement by Senator Chris Dodd, Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA) on the so-called “Blackout Day” protesting anti-piracy legislation:
“Only days after the White House and chief sponsors of the legislation responded to the major concern expressed by opponents and then called for all parties to work cooperatively together, some technology business interests are resorting to stunts that punish their users or turn them into their corporate pawns, rather than coming to the table to find solutions to a problem that all now seem to agree is very real and damaging.
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The dominant search provider won’t follow Wikipedia by going dark tomorrow. But Google will use its popular home page to cite its reasons for opposing two bills designed to thwart overseas Web sites that traffic in pirated content. “Like many businesses, entrepreneurs and web users, we oppose these bills because there are smart, targeted ways to shut down foreign rogue websites without asking American companies to censor the Internet,” Google says. “So tomorrow we will be joining many other tech companies to highlight this issue on our US home page.” Tech companies including Reddit and Cheezburger Network hope that their Wednesday protests will galvanize public opinion against the proposals that would give the government the power to shut foreign-based sites that sell copyrighted entertainment. Prospects for the legislation — the Senate’s Protect IP Act and the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act — dimmed this weekend when the White House said it shares tech company concerns that the law might be used against legitimate sites, or dampen investor interest in the Web. The MPAA still hopes to work out a compromise, saying that the legislation is needed to protect U.S. jobs. But News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch has used his new forum on Twitter to campaign for the bills, attacking Google in the process. “Piracy leader is Google who streams movies free, sells advts around them. No wonder pouring millions into lobbying,” he tweeted on Saturday. … Read More »
The media world would be a lot more fun if every CEO unloaded on Twitter as much as Rupert Murdoch has since he began posting his personal thoughts this month. News Corp’s chief tweeter’s latest target is — surprise!– President Obama after his administration said today that it has qualms about the Hollywood-supported anti-piracy bills making their way through Congress. Although the MPAA still sees room for negotiation on the proposals — opposed by the tech community – Murdoch is fed up: “So Obama has thrown in his lot with Silicon Valley paymasters who threaten all software creators with piracy, plain thievery,” he writes in one tweet. The follow up: “Piracy leader is Google who streams movies free, sells advts around them. No wonder pouring millions into lobbying.” And then a third: “Film making risky as hell. This has to lead to less, hurting writers, actors, all concerned.” Murdoch seems to be thinking a lot about risk today. Earlier he wrote: “Normally disapprove of casinos, but hitting 16s and 17s lot of fun. To hell with theories!”
UPDATE, 12:10 PM: Diplomacy is the order of the day for the MPAA in its response to the White House. The trade group says it’s still willing to work on a compromise. It hopes that ”the Administration’s role in this debate now will help steer the attention to what can be accomplished and passed into law to protect American jobs,” says Michael O’Leary, MPAA’s Senior Executive Vice President for Global Policy and External Affairs. He adds: “Meaningful legislation must include measured and reasonable remedies that include ad brokers, payment processors and search engines.” Failure to pass an anti-piracy law “will result in overseas websites continuing to be a safe haven for criminals stealing and profiting from America.”
PREVIOUS, 9:53 AM: An online statement today from three White House officials indicates that President Obama sides with the tech community — and against Hollywood — in opposing proposals that give the government the right to block overseas Web sites that traffic in pirated content. The administration “will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet,” Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel, U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra, and Special Assistant to the President Howard Schmidt write. Their concerns match the objections that tech companies have raised about two similar bills: the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Senate’s Protect IP Act. The trio acknowledge that piracy is a serious problem that hurts “everyone from struggling artists to production crews, and from startup social media companies to large movie studios.” But they called for new proposals that narrowly target ”sites beyond the reach of current U.S. law,” focus on criminal activity, and protect Internet intermediaries including
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Based on a new report on the impact of unauthorized downloads, Switzerland seems to be saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The study, released by the Federal Department of Justice and Police, has concluded that piracy doesn’t have a negative economic impact on the nation and contends that the current legislation, which allows for copyrighted material to be downloaded for personal use, is sufficient. Chris Marcich, president of the Motion Picture Association, Europe, tells me it’s a “surprising and disappointing result.” In its investigation (in part based on a year-old Dutch study because the markets are similar), a federal council found that up to one-third of Swiss over the age of 15 download movies, music and games for free and that the majority do not distinguish between downloads that are legal and those that are not. Most compelling for the authors of the study, however, appears to be that users of file-sharing sites are still spending money on entertainment and the savings they realize by downloading free content is in turn being spent on movie tickets and games. Read More »
Obama administration officials unveiled today a series of TV, radio, print, and Internet public-service ads that link bogus goods including pirated movies and music with higher crime, lost jobs, and child labor. Intellectual property crimes “are anything but victimless,” Attorney General Eric Holder said, calling them “a significant and growing threat” to economic and national security. “With holiday shopping season now upon us, this information could hardly be hitting the airwaves at a more appropriate time.” One TV ad, produced with help from MTV Networks, shows a woman envisioning the misery she might create from buying an illegal DVD. The tag line: “It’s not only a few dollars. … Know the real cost. Don’t buy counterfeits.” Another TV spot creates an analogy between illegal music downloads and New York subway riders stealing tips from the guitar case of singer-songwriter Addie Brownlee. Radio and print ads reinforce the theme that “you have the power” to stop IP theft. Most also direct people to the website for the National Crime Prevention Council’s “Get Real” campaign. Other agencies supporting the campaign include the Office of the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Hadopi, the Paris-based agency in charge of policing illegal downloads, has cleared its final legal hurdle. The agency will begin sending 10,000 emails and 3,000 registered letters out daily to people suspected of illegal downloading from September onwards. US experiments show that 50% of miscreants cease illegal downloads once they’ve received a first, politely worded email. Individuals are monitored for six months before another email goes out, this time harshly worded. France is the most aggressive country in the world when it comes to pursuing internet piracy because of its strong cultural lobby.
As in the UK and elsewhere, telcos have insisted clamping down on internet use is an invasion of privacy. They say innocent families could have their vital internet connections cut off because of a few teenage miscreants. Finland has just made internet access a basic human right. It’s estimated that 1,000 computers a day could have their broadband connections cut off. Stars including Catherine Deneuve have campaigned against the Hadopi law. The argument runs these are entertainment dinosaurs defending an outdated business model; their time would be better spent coming up with new ways of making money.
Antoine Virenque, head of French distributors’ association FNDF, says he’s spoken to parents who would be appalled if children just went in and stole DVDs, yet turn a blind eye to them pirating music and films. Virenque says there needs to be an unspoken compact between the public that illegal downloading is … Read More »