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.
Lionsgate has promoted Thomas Hughes, a sign, the company says, of how much importance it places on emerging online and alternate video-delivery platforms. As EVP Worldwide Digital Distribution, Hughes will oversee sales and distribution efforts in on-demand and digital video, including more than 25 digital retailers, mobile platforms and multichannel video providers. He’ll be reporting to Jim Packer, Lionsgate’s President of Worldwide TV & Digital Distribution, and continue to work closely with international TV exec Peter Iacono on global digital and VOD markets. Hughes had been SVP Worldwide Digital, and previously served under Packer at MGM as VP Worldwide Digital. Among his notable projects at Lionsgate has been the pioneering day-and-date releases of Arbitrage and Margin Call on VOD and in theaters.
Consumer Electronics Show Gets A 2015 Date
CES, the mammoth electronics confab that overruns the Las Vegas Convention Center and so much of the rest of that city each year, has set its dates for 2015. The Consumer Electronics Association, which puts on the show, says it will be run from JAnuary 6-9. For more info or to get signed up really, really, really early, go to CESweb.org. The CES site for the event already has info for hotel rooms, registration, and so much else. No link to the site for orthopedic walking shoes you’ll need after hiking across … Read More »
HBO‘s Game Of Thrones has made piracy history. According to TorrentFreak, more than 193,000 BitTorrent users shared a single copy of Sunday’s episode and about 1.5 million people downloaded it during the first 24 hours. The numbers are “unprecedented”, says TorrentFreak. The previous record was set last year, when 171.5K shared the same file of GOT‘s Season 3 finale. Over 1 million BitTorrent users downloaded that episode. The HBO show is a network exclusive and not available on services like Netflix, leading to increased piracy numbers particularly overseas.
Youku Tudou, Sohu Video, Tencent Video, LeTV, the MPAA, Wanda Films, Enlight Media and Huayi Brothers are among the partners in the Joint Action Against Online Video Piracy in China. The aim of the effort is to fight online video infringement on PCs and mobile devices in the massive country where illegal access to content is rampant. “Since 2009, the video industry is facing a more severe anti-piracy situation,” Sohu CEO Charles Zhang said at a media event in Beijing today. “Especially when those big Internet companies with resource advantages participate in large-scale piracy. We cannot keep competing because where thieves and robbers are having their way, law-abiding companies cannot survive.” Reps from Sony, Warner Bros, Disney and Paramount also attended the media event. It was further announced there that some Chinese Internet companies have filed lawsuits against search engine Baidu and software company QVOD for what they say are copyright violations, and are seeking $49.2M in damages.
The companies said today that Baidu, China’s answer to Google, “is distributing content without authorization while engaging in activities that are beyond the scope of a search engine.” Users are “able to access content hosted on third party sites” and Baidu is “providing access to rogue video sites that host pirated content and do not have … Read More »
The Hollywood lobby group responded to a request from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative for names of countries that it should consider including in its list of “notorious markets” to penalize for failing to crack down on piracy. The MPAA’s collection had a lot of familiar targets including Ukraine, Canada, China, Indonesia, Russia, Thailand, and India. But it added several others for providing havens for copyright-infringing peer-to-peer networks, Bit Torrent portals, download and streaming hubs, linking websites and newsgroups, and physical markets pirates. The “rogue overseas marketplaces,” MPAA chief Chrisopher Dodd says, “undermine the people who work hard to create the movies and TV shows audiences love, and jeopardize the billions of dollars they contribute to the U.S. economy.” The group’s letter specifically cites Australia’s Caribbean Gardens & Markets, the country’s “largest undercover market” that routinely sells pirated DVDs. “State and federal police have shown no interest in enforcing [copyright infringement laws] despite multiple entreaties from rights holders.” There’s a similar situation in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where the city’s “largest and most famous shopping market” — Mercado Popular de Uruguaiana — “contains more than 1,500 kiosks, many of which sell counterfeit optical discs.” Northern Ireland’s Jonesborough Market has “historically strong ties to paramilitary groups” and operators “sell an array of counterfeit products, including pirated optical discs.” And for Mexico the MPAA cites just a few of “the nearly 90 well-known markets” controlled by organized criminals that “specialize in pirate and … Read 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. Read More »
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 MPAA says today based on a study it commissioned to follow up on the matter. “The share of referral traffic from Google to infringing sites included in the Google Transparency Report remained flat in the three months following Google’s implementation of the change last August.” This is important, MPAA chief Chris Dodd says, because search engines “bear responsibility for introducing people to infringing content — even people who aren’t actively looking for it.” Research firm Compete Inc. studied how many Internet users accessed URLs of 12M film and TV content sites that had hosted infringing content from 2010-2012, but not P2P sites or applications. It found that Google accounted for 82% of the queries that led people to the sites. In addition, 58% of the searches leading to the sites “contained only general keywords — such as the titles of recent films or TV shows, or phrases related to watching films or TV online — and not specific keywords aimed at finding illegitimate content.” U.S. Reps. Howard Coble, Adam Schiff, Marsha Blackburn and Judy Chu joined Dodd in calling on search engine providers to … Read More »
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. Read More »
Showtime‘s Homeland became the latest victim of online piracy today when the show’s Season 3 premiere was leaked ahead of its September 29 debut. Over 100K users of file-sharing protocol BitTorrent have pirated the episode via various piracy sites within hours of its upload, reports TorrentFreak. Homeland producer 20th Century Fox has its anti-piracy unit working on the issue. Showtime widely distributed screeners of its Homeland Season 3 premiere episode to press last month at TCA, although the leaked version is reportedly a workprint missing VFX and opening credits. A spokesperson for BitTorrent says true download numbers are not trackable on the company’s official site except to the original uploader. The company is making continuing efforts to shake its reputation as a piracy site by teaming with content creators on co-branded campaigns, most recently on Converge Studios’ TV series Fly Or Die which generated over a million legit downloads after launching last month.
Related: “Impossible” To Illegally Download On BitTorrent, Says BitTorrent
The woman appointed in 2009 by President Obama as the nation’s first intellectual property czar has left the post. The Hill reported today that Victoria Espinel, who stepped down Friday, is a top candidate to run BSA | The Software Alliance, a trade group for software companies. Espinel in June issued the “Joint Strategic Plan On Intellectual Property Enforcement,” in which she said the White House will help tech companies, studios and others to come up with voluntary initiatives to fight piracy as part of a broader effort to attack the problem. During her tenure as U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, Espinosa lobbied to making illegal streaming of IP a felony, among other anti-piracy efforts. But last month, the MPAA chafed over what it considers the White House’s limited effort to reduce ad sales to web pirates. Howard Shelanski, administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the Office of Management and Budget, will take over while a search is conducted for a permanent replacement.
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 »
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. Read More »
Subscription viewers weren’t the only ones who went nuts for HBO‘s Game Of Thrones season finale. According to TorrentFreak, over 1 million BitTorrent users downloaded Sunday’s single episode within 24 hours, with as many as 171.5K sharing the same file simultaneously. The HBO show is a network exclusive and not available on services like Netflix, leading to increased piracy numbers particularly overseas in Australia where episodes are delayed in airing. Last year Game Of Thrones became the most-downloaded TV show of 2012 when its second season finale notched a reported 4.3M downloads, an achievement HBO President of Programming Michael Lombardo has in the past described as a “compliment” that didn’t negatively hurt DVD sales. TorrentFreak projects that Sunday’s third season finale could top season 2′s record making Game Of Thrones again the most pirated TV show of the year.
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. Read More »
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. Read More »
“I’m going to piss a lot of people off,” Ari Emanuel told the AllThingsD conference tonight. And in a room of tech execs, the WME boss kept his word. “Where Google decides to play in this piracy issue, plus Verizon, AT&T, is very crucial for our industry and I’m concerned they’re going to wait it out,” Emanuel to told AllThingsD co-founders Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher in front of a packed house. “If they don’t stop the stealing of content I think it is going to be a problem.” Emanuel, who promised not to swear or hit anyone, was very clear to name names and point out where in the “pipes” he sees the theft of his clients’ and Hollywood’s content coming from. “We need Northern California to figure out how to keep our intellectual property from being stolen. If Google was in China, and their stuff was being stolen, they would leave China, right?” Emanuel didn’t miss the opportunity to chastise Silicon Valley and their industry for allowing the stealing of content and the scuttling of antipiracy legislation. “Ask Google, ask Verizon why they haven’t come to the table?”
Asked in the Q&A what exactly he’d like Google to do, Emanuel said “I’d like them to start filtering when people are stealing our product internationally, that’s their responsibility.” In a heated exchange with one questioner, Emanuel made his point emphatically, telling the guy to sit down to wide applause. … Read More »
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 will be based in the MPAA’s Los Angeles office and report to Michael Robinson, the EVP Content Protection and Chief of Operations for the major studio’s lobbying organization and trade group. Miller will oversee worldwide Internet content protection and enforcement, and work with the MPAA’s legal team in defining as well as enforcing the group’s litigation strategy. Prior to joining Nintendo, he worked on IP Litigation at the U.S. Department of Justice’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section. The MPAA is active in anti-piracy efforts in 27 countries in Asia/Pacific, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
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. Read More »