Just over three months after the Motion Picture Association of America won an important legal victory finding file-sharing service Hotfile and its founder Anton Titov liable for copyright infringement, the site today took a fatal double blow. A federal court in South Florida on Tuesday awarded the studios and the MPAA $80 million in damages and ordered the file-sharing site to shut down unless it puts copyright filtering technologies in place. Coming just days before a trial was to start next week, today’s settlement brings to an end the MPAA and the studios’ nearly three-year legal action against Hotfile, says the Hollywood lobby group. “This judgment by the court is another important step toward protecting an Internet that works for everyone,” MPAA boss Chris Dodd said in a statement Tuesday. “Sites like Hotfile that illegally profit off of the creativity and hard work of others do a serious disservice to audiences, who deserve high-quality, legitimate viewing experiences online.”
With a list of the thousands of TV shows and films that Hotfile allegedly had infringed, the original 2011 complaint had Disney Enterprises, Universal City Studios Productions, 20th Century Fox Film Corporation, Columbia Pictures and Warner Bros as its plaintiffs. As other file-sharing sites have tried to do in similar cases, Hotfile employed the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act as a defense. It was obviously … Read More »
As its war on piracy rages on, the MPAA has picked Steven Fabrizio to be its new legal general. The senior partner in the Washington DC office of Jenner & Block today was named Senior EVP and Global General Counsel for the movie industry group. “As the MPAA’s new Global General Counsel, he will continue to protect the rights of our industry’s creators and makers so they can do what they do best: tell stories that entertain audiences across the globe,” said MPAA chief Chris Dodd in a statement. Fabrizio, formerly SVP at the Recording Industry Association of America, certainly has a lot of experience in that role: He’s already handled some pretty big cases for the MPAA, repping it and the studios in a victory against file-sharing service Hotfile this past August. He also took the lead in securing the $110 million settlement Hollywood received from now-closed file-sharing site isoHunt last month. At Jener & Block soince 2003, Fabrizio is scheduled to start his new gig next month.
Related: CBS Names Ex-NBCU Counsel As New Top Lawyer
Three weeks before a copyright infringement trial was set to begin, filesharing site isoHunt has agreed to shut down and pay out $110 million in a settlement to several Hollywood studios. The deal was proposed to a federal judge in a joint filing by the defendants as well as plaintiffs Columbia, Disney, Paramount, Fox, Universal, TriStar and Warner Bros. “Today’s settlement is a major step forward in realizing the enormous potential of the Internet as a platform for legitimate commerce and innovation,” said a pleased MPAA CEO Chris Dodd, Thursday in a statement. “It also sends a strong message that those who build businesses around encouraging, enabling, and helping others to commit copyright infringement are themselves infringers, and will be held accountable for their illegal actions.” Of course, for all that, there is no real indication where isoHunt founder Gary Fung will be getting the money or if the studios will actually see any of it. The studios first sued isoHunt and iFung back in 2006 just three years after isoHunt first started. They went after the site over copyright infringement on more than 21,000 pieces of their intellectual property that they ID’d on it. it was a long drawn out affair but things had not been looking good for Fung and isoHunt after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in a … Read More »
Nearly two years and a half years after first filing their suit on behalf of several studios, the MPAA today scored a victory against file-sharing service Hotfile. A federal court in Florida has found the site and its boss Anton Titov liable for copyright infringement. Today is the first time a U.S. court has ruled that such cyberlocker sites can be held directly liable for their practices. “This decision sends a clear signal that businesses like Hotfile that are built on a foundation of stolen works will be held accountable for the damage they do both to the hardworking people in the creative industries and to a secure, legitimate Internet”, MPAA chairman and CEO Chris Dodd in a statement today. “We applaud the court for recognizing that Hotfile was not simply a storage locker, but an entire business model built on mass distribution of stolen content.” With claims of “ill-gotten gains” and a list of hundreds of the thousands of TV shows and films that Hotfile had allegedly infringed, the original 2011 complaint had Disney Enterprises, 20th Century Fox Film Corporation, Universal City Studios Productions, Columbia Pictures and Warner Bros as its plaintiffs. As others have done, the stateside-based Hotfile tried to use the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act as a defense — although ultimately unsuccessfully. Today’s full decision from Judge Kathleen Williams won’t be made public for two weeks until confidential and propriety details are redacted. However, lawyers for both sides were allowed to review the opinion before its gist was revealed. Read More »
New York State has seen a dramatic rise in recent years in film and television production and jobs, says a report released today by the MPAA. Employment in the industry in the state grew by 25% between 2008 and 2011, according to the study (read it here) conducted by HR&A Advisors for the MPAA. The approximately 46,100 jobs and 135 productions in New York in 2011 are a direct result of the state’s tax credit, says MPAA chairman and CEO Chris Dodd — a clear comparison to the sagging situation in Los Angeles County and California. “These findings further confirm that the New York State production incentives have grown into a major economic driver in the state’s economy,” said Dodd. That’s translating into this year, too: As of mid-November 2012, film and TV spending in New York State is at $1.9 billion, more than previous high of $1.83 billion from 2008 and with six weeks left in the year. TV series Law & Order SVU, Blue Bloods and Elementary are among those that film in New York. Disney’s The Avengers partially shot there last year and Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf Of Wall Street is among the features shooting there right now. Read More »
The Motion Picture Association of America, lead by former Connecticut Democratic Senator Chris Dodd, approves of what the Republicans have to say about protecting intellectual property and internet freedom in their party platform. The GOP platform, which was formally approved last night at the party’s convention in Tampa, Florida, strongly advocates internet freedom, especially in terms of deregulation, innovation, competition. The GOP also doesn’t want to “shift control away from the successful multi-stakeholder approach of Internet governance and toward governance by international or other intergovernmental organizations.” In terms of piracy, the GOP platform states that “punitive measures will be imposed on foreign firms that misappropriate American technology and intellectual property.” Here’s what the MPAA had to say in response:
“The Republican Party platform language strikes a very smart balance: it emphasizes the importance of us doing more as a nation to protect our intellectual property from online theft while underscoring the critical importance of protecting internet freedom. As the party points out, the internet has been for its entire existence a source of innovation, and it is intellectual property that helps drive that innovation. Copyright is the cornerstone of innovation; it allows creators to benefit from what they create. As Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor – herself once a Republican elected official – wrote, ‘[I]t should not be forgotten that the Framers intended copyright itself to be the engine of free expression. By establishing a marketable right
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It’s not shutting them down as many in Hollywood would like but if a site is repeatedly posting pirated material then Google announced today that they’re going to flag it. “Starting next week, we will begin taking into account a new signal in our rankings: the number of valid copyright removal notices received for any given site. Sites with high numbers of removal notices may appear lower in our results,” Amit Singhal, the company’s SVP, Engineering wrote this morning on Google’s blog. Singhal added that “we’re receiving and processing more copyright removal notices every day than we did in all of 2009 — more than 4.3 million URLs in the last 30 days alone.” Earlier this year at the AllThingsD conference WME’s Ari Emanuel emphasized that he wanted Google to start helping Hollywood out with piracy and “start filtering when people are stealing our product internationally.” The Motion Picture Association of America has long advocated Google and other search engines addressing the issue of piracy and copyrighted material and the accessibility of such material in search results. Today the MPAA’s Michael O’Leary had this to say about the new move by Google:
“We are optimistic that Google’s actions will help steer consumers to the myriad legitimate ways for them to access movies and TV shows online, and away from the rogue cyberlockers, peer-to-peer sites, and other outlaw
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UPDATE, 12:35 PM: The basic message from the MPAA and the National Association of Theatre Owners is that there’s nothing wrong with the movie business that a couple of hits can’t fix. “We needed a few more good movies” in 2011, NATO chief John Fithian says, describing the reason for last year’s 3.8% downturn in domestic ticket sales. “There wasn’t any Avatar in 2011.” But this year’s different, which is especially evident on the eve of Lionsgate’s release of The Hunger Games. Fithian says it could generate as much as $120M domestically this weekend, which would make it “the biggest opening for the month of March….We’re adding screens every minute.” With domestic sales up about 14% year to date, “we’re very confident about 2012 being an up year domestically as well as globally.” What about Disney’s debacle with John Carter, which just resulted in a $200M write down? “I admire Disney taking a chance,” MPAA chief Chirs Dodd says. But theater owners want to see studios take fewer chances when it comes to creating a new premium VOD window on pay TV. “Last year we had a public food fight,” Fithian says. “The attitude is much different in 2012….I’m very encouraged.” Read More »
MPAA’s new Chairman/CEO Chris Dodd held his first official Board meeting in Washington DC today. But here’s what I find most interesting: following the meeting, the members of the Board from the major studios suddenly embraced the leaders from the major entertainment industry unions DGA, IATSE, SAG, AFTRA. Notably missing was the WGA which keeps being ostracized by the other unions not to mention the studios. The MPAA tells me the studios and other unions “scheduled meetings with key members of Congress and the Administration to discuss the critical importance of curbing online content theft and improving international market access”. Hmm.
The leading supporters of legislation to attack overseas web sites that traffic in pirated entertainment say that they’re prepared to address some legislators’ concerns about potential threats to legitimate Internet businesses. “I think you’ll see some movement,” says Michael O’Leary, MPAA’s Senior Executive Vice President for Global Policy and External Affairs. But he adds that it probably won’t be enough to stop tech companies from opposing the bill — known in the House as the Stop Online Piracy Act and in the Senate as Protect IP Act. Some of them “have no intention of agreeing” to a compromise, he says, because they “want the current state of play to continue.” The comments came in a briefing that included the Directors Guild of America and the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employee’s Union. They’re eager to communicate the industry’s reasons for supporting the legislation that would give federal officials the authority to block overseas web sites that sell copyrighted work without the owners’ permission. “Our opposition does not feel constrained by a need to tell the truth,” says Kathy Garmezy, DGA’s Associate Executive Director for Goverment and International Affairs. Tech companies who say that SOPA might violate civil liberties, she adds, are merely trying “to gin people up into a frenzy.”
That appears to be working. The bill has “a lot of hurdles” to overcome, O’Leary says — although he adds that “we will win this Read More »
I’m suspicious of reports that give a precise dollar figure for how much value an industry contributes to the economy — especially when the results help the industry to make a case for some legislation it wants passed. Numbers always sound so authoritative, even though economists often privately acknowledge that so many assumptions go into a measurement of an industry’s impact that the results can be little more than a collection of educated guesses. Still, it’s interesting to see the number that the International Intellectual Property Alliance came out with today showing how much of the economy comes from copyright industries — including film, TV, music, computer software, and publishing. They accounted for $931.8B, or 6.4%, of the gross domestic product in 2010, the group says based on findings from Stephen Siwek of Economists Incorporated, who relied on government data. If you throw in other industries that benefit from copyrighted work, then the economic value rises to $1.627T, or 11.1% of GDP. The core businesses also employed 5.1M U.S. workers, or 4.8% of the private sector, with wages averaging $78,128, 27% more than the U.S. average. The data show that we need “strong and modern copyright laws that take into account changes in technology and the continuing harm caused by copyright theft,” IIPA counsel Steven Metalitz says. Not surprisingly, several members of the alliance — including the MPAA and Recording Industry Association of America — support controversial bills in Congress that … Read More »
MPAA Files Lawsuit Against Zediva Streaming Service
The MPAA’s fight on behalf of the studios to shut down movie-streaming site Zediva began in April, when it filed a lawsuit claiming the service offered up films to paying customers without permission from copyright owners, violating the studios’ exclusive right to publicly perform their movies under federal law. Today, U.S. District Judge John Walter agreed, entering a a permanent injunction prohibiting the site’s operators from continuing the service and from any further infringement (see the doc here). Zediva’s owners have also agreed to a payment of $1.8 million to the studios. “This result sends a strong message to those who would exploit the studios’ works in violation of copyright law, on the Internet or elsewhere, and it is an important victory for the more than 2 million American men and women whose livelihoods depend on a thriving film and television industry,” MPAA SVP and Associate General Counsel Dan Robbins said in announcing the result. The MPAA’s member studios sued WTV Systems, the parent company of Zediva, and Venkatesh Srinivasan, Zediva’s founder and CEO. Walter granted a preliminary injunction in August.
Ronald Reagan Film Career To Be Honored In Washington DC Nov. 14 By Motion Picture Industry & Reagan Centennial Celebration
WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Chris Dodd, CEO and Chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA) along with Frederick J. Ryan, Jr., Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, are pleased to announce their partnership in programs honoring the contributions of Ronald Reagan to the motion picture industry to take place on November 14, 2011.
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EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that the Motion Picture Association Of America representing the Hollywood movie studios will be co-hosting a tribute to Ronald Reagan’s film career on November 14th in Washington DC. The other host will be the Ronald Reagan Centennial Celebration, which is the year-long commemoration of Reagan’s 100th birthday in 2011. All the movie studios are obtaining old footage of Reagan’s 53-movie legacy from 1937 to 1965 and are putting together around 5 cinematic profiles of the former Screen Actors Guild president for the bipartisan event. But I suspect the real reason behind this Reagan tribute is to remind the Republican Party going into this election that Reagan was part of Hollywood. After all, the GOP and showbiz are barely on speaking terms these days, and recently the MPAA hired former Democratic Senator Chris Dodd to head the Hollywood lobbying organization even though certainly the House and likely the Senate and maybe even the White House, too, will be under Republican control in 2012. But the MPAA, which bills itself as the voice and advocate of the American motion picture industry, needs to continue to enlist the U.S. government’s help in fighting piracy overseas as well obtaining tax breaks for Big Media. The Hollywood studios participating in the tribute consist of the Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (owned by Walt Disney Co), Paramount Pictures Corporation (owned by Viacom), Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc (owned by Sony Corp), Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation (owned by News Corp), Universal City Studios LLC (owned by Comcast), and Warner Bros Entertainment Inc (owned by Time Warner).
Just to remind you, Reagan grew up in Illinois, attended college, and became a radio sports announcer (“Dutch” Reagan) until he moved to California after a screen test in 1937 won him a Warner Bros contract in Hollywood. Commissioned as a cavalry officer after the outbreak of WWII, Reagan was assigned to the Army Air Force’s First Motion Picture Unit making mostly training films in Los Angeles. He was typecast as the affable friend in mostly B movies and never reached the pinnacle of filmdom, despite many memorable roles like Knute Rockne – All American (1940) and Kings Row (1942) and Hasty Heart (1950). His tenure as SAG president was marked by controversy Read More »
Senator Chris Dodd, Chairman/CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, today set the new leadership team under his watch, including a promotion for Michael O’Leary to SEVP of Global Policy and External Affairs. Dodd also brought in his former Deputy Chief Of Staff from his U.S. Senate days Lori McGrogan to become Senior Adviser To The Chairman. He also revamped the internal PR staff, hiring Laura Nichols, now MPAA’s EVP Global Communications.
O’Leary, in his new role, will supervise all international, federal and state affairs operations. In addition, O’Leary will oversee the Association’s technology and research efforts. Previously, he had been EVP of Government Affairs, responsible for the development and the implementation of the MPAA’s domestic government policy priorities and federal and state legislative and regulatory strategies. According to his official bio, O’Leary has nearly 20 years of intellectual property policy and enforcement experience. Before coming to work for the MPAA, O’Leary served as Deputy Chief for Intellectual Property in the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section of the Department of Justice, where he prosecuted and supervised major domestic and international criminal intellectual property investigations and prosecutions.
Dodd said in a statement: “The creative community’s voice in Washington will be critical in the months and years ahead as our leaders debate what will be the best, most cost-effective ways to produce new jobs and protect the ones we have. We’ve assembled a senior team, who, together … Read More »
After weeks of rumors, it looks like the Motion Picture Association of America has finally found a permanent replacement in the chairman post most recently held by Dan Glickman. Christopher Dodd, the former Democratic Senator from Connecticut will get the post, per The New York Times.