Global Showbiz Briefs: BAFTA Releases Breakthrough Brits List; New Report Says UK Creative Industries Are Threatened; More
BAFTA Unveils First Breakthrough Brits List For Film, TV, Games
BAFTA and Burberry have selected 17 newcomers who are making their name in film, TV or games for the inaugural BAFTA Breakthrough Brits list. The honorees, selected by a jury of industry experts, are actors Paul Brannigan, James Floyd, Tom Holland, Ade Oyefeso, Chloe Pirrie, and Sharon Rooney; writers/directors Rowan Athale and Zam Salim; writer Dominic Mitchell; game developers Oliver Clarke, Mitu Khandaker and Dan Pearce; game designers Rex Crowle and Sophia George; broadcaster Arthur Williams; and producers Ed Barratt and Nisha Parti. They will be celebrated during a showcase event October 21 at BAFTA headquarters in London.
Last year Google changed its search algorithm in a way that was supposed to demote the rankings of websites that had been identified as persistent copyright violators. But there’s “no evidence” that the change has affected search-driven traffic to the sites, …
The latest battle in the theater etiquette wars went down Monday in Toronto — of all places, in a Press & Industry screening that pitted press vs. the fest and ended in a call to 911. Shortly after the P&I screening of Ti West’s new thriller The Sacrament began, FirstShowing.net blogger Alex Billington made numerous complaints to festival reps that a patron in the first row was holding a cell phone up towards the screen. When officials refused to take action, Billington called 911 to report a crime of piracy in progress; the 911 dispatcher laughed at Billington’s complaint and the blogger admits now it was a “mistake” to call emergency services instead of a non-emergency number.
The flap is making headlines for Billington’s 911 call, but it revives the hot-button debate over movie theater talking and texting. Sanctioned cell phone use in movies sparked controversy last year at CinemaCon when theater chain owners floated the idea of letting patrons text during screenings. And another journalist in attendance Monday said it appeared the offender was taking pictures of the screen. But Billington says he was told by festival reps that it’s an “unwritten policy” to allow use of any and all devices in P&I screenings. This despite TIFF’s warning ahead of both P&I screenings and public screenings that forbids cell phone use during films.
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.
UPDATED: California state Attorney General Kamala Harris today announced criminal charges and the arraignment of three brothers who face up to five years in prison for operating an illegal website that allowed users to watch bootleg versions of copyrighted TV shows and movies. Hop Hoang, 26, Tony Hoang, 23, and Huynh Hoang, 20, were arraigned in Alameda County Superior Court today for allegedly operating the website mediamp4.com, which allowed users to illegally stream more than 1,000 copyrighted titles on computers and mobile devices. The three have each been charged with one count of conspiracy, four counts of receiving stolen property and one count of grand theft after their computers were seized.
There’s so much current programming that’s available for free from online pirates that it “could put the whole [pay TV] ecosystem at risk,” Macquarie Equities Research’s Tim Nollen warns today. His report follows what he says was a “quick and dirty Google search” to see what he could find. To his surprise “practically everything that’s popular on TV can be found instantly” from torrent sites such as The Pirate Bay and cyberlockers listed in Letmewatchthis.com. For example, he found episodes of FX’s Justified, TNT’s Dallas, AMC’s The Walking Dead, History’s Vikings, and CBS’ The Big Bang Theory less than three hours after they aired. He also was surprised by how slick some of these sites have become. “In terms of usability, it’s difficult to tell the difference between iTunes or Netflix and the smoothest-looking illegitimate sites.” About 70% of U.S. homes have broadband service, giving them the ability to download an hourlong show in about 42 seconds — and lots of people already use that power to watch shows for free. Pirate Bay is more popular among U.S. Internet users than sites from The Washington Post, Best Buy, and dating service Match.com.
International law may soon allow the Caribbean island of Antigua to sell copyrighted movies, TV shows, music, games and software online without paying a penny to studios and other content owners. Antigua today accepted a World Trade Organization decision authorizing it to sell up to $21 million annually in U.S. intellectual property without paying royalties. WTO says the appropriation of U.S. copyrights is justified to compensate for U.S. trade sanctions that crippled the tiny island’s online gambling industry. In a statement to the WTO, Antiguan High Commissioner to the UK Carl Roberts paraphrased Bob Dylan: “[As] an American musician once said, ‘When you have nothing you have nothing to lose’”.
Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Public & Media Affairs Nkenge Harmon tells me via email that any Antigua-aided piracy would hurt chances for a settlement and foreign investments in other Antiguan industries including high-tech. “To be clear, the United States will not tolerate theft of intellectual property and will take whatever steps are most efficient and effective to prevent this from happening.” A representative for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce adds this promise: “Violating international IP obligations would sour the business environment and reduce government revenues in the long term — the biggest losers would be the people of [Antigua]“. The MPAA had no immediate comment.
The MPAA is ramping up its efforts to combat movie piracy, appointing attorney Marc Miller as SVP Content Protection, Internet. Miller joins from Nintendo of America, where he was Anti-Piracy Counsel for Americas and Asia/Pacific. He …
The U.S. Trade Representative’s annual list of the countries on America’s official piracy radar was released today, with Spain and Malaysia dropping off the roster and Ukraine coming aboard. The highest Priority Watch List includes thirteen countries: Algeria, Argentina, Canada, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, Thailand, Ukraine, and Venezuela. The report says online piracy is “rapidly supplanting physical piracy in many markets around the world” and nowhere more so than in China, where 99% of all music downloads are illegal. Streaming sites with pirated content also have become the preferred venues to watch TV shows, movies, and live sports events. “Strong copyright protection and enforcement are vital to our industry’s ability to create U.S. jobs, grow our own economy, and expand U.S. exports,” MPAA chairman Chris Dodd said today in commending the Special 301 report.
Paul Brigner, whom the MPAA hired in January 2011 as its chief technology officer, has left the industry’s trade and lobbying organization, CNET reports. He’s now a major critic of legislation championed by the MPAA such as the Stop …
Film piracy has a very little impact on box office results in the U.S. but likely cuts into studio profits overseas depending on the time lag between a film’s American debut and rollout overseas. Those are the surprising conclusions of an extensive study titled “Reel Piracy: The Effect of Online Film Piracy on International Box Office Sales,” spearheaded by Brett Danaher of Wellesley College and Joel Waldfogel at the University of Minnesota and the National Bureau of Economic Research.
While researchers in the study acknowledge an increase in piracy — especially for genres such as science fiction and action films — U.S. audiences still prefer the theatrical experience. The study found that Americans are heading to theaters in about the same numbers they would have otherwise in the absence of piracy, suggesting that perhaps people opt to see a film in a theater despite an initial pass online, or word of mouth from a pirated copy of a film may push others to the multiplex.