Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Viewer Ethics: Film Piracy

Worldwide and on the Internet, video piracy remains rampant. The movie industry has invented new ways to fight piracy, and has pushed for anti piracy laws to discourage pirates. Besides pirated DVD copies of films, copies are available online for illegal downloading, through peer-to-peer file sharing networks. High definition camcorders, some not much bigger than cell phones, can copy films from a movie screen with little loss of detail.

What makes piracy illegal is copying a film and selling/renting that copy to anyone. Also, a consumer may not copy a film from one computer, VCR, DVD onto another.

In the 1970s, Sony, developed Betamax, a video tape recording format. Universal Studios and the Walt Disney Company were among the film industry members who were wary of this development. The companies therefore decided to sue Sony and its distributors alleging that because Sony was manufacturing a device that could potentially be used for copyright infringement, they were thus liable for any infringement that was committed by its purchasers. The ruling on this was manufacturers of home video recording machines could not be liable for contributory copyright infringement for the the potential uses by purchasers, because the devises were sold for legitimate purposes and had substantial non-infringing uses. Personal use of the machines to record broadcast television programs for later viewing constituted fair use. The case established a general test for determining whether a device with copying or recording capabilities ran afoul of copyright law. This test has created some interpretative challenges to courts in applying the case to more recent file sharing technologies available for use on home computers and over the Internet. 

According to MPAA, 90% of new movie releases that are pirated are recorded with a camcorder. As a way to stop piracy in theatres, movie industries will pay employees up to $500 for catching a recorder in the act. With the use of night-vision equipment, this is possible to do.

Even though there are federal convictions, an individual usually sits in the movie theatre with a miniature camera in their cup holder and simply tapes the film. As a way to improve sound, some pirates plug the camera into the theatres audio system.

Because of the advancement in technology, high definition camcorders get cheaper thus pirated copies get better. Today, you could by a high definition camera for as little as $130.

Various technologies to prevent recording have been developed. Films now have flashing colored dots that carry identifying information about the print so that the studios can track down the pirates.

The MPAA has created laws to stop the use of film piracy, like the camcorder laws. Internationally, The Berne Copyright Convention administered by the WIPO is the main protector of rights of authors and composers to authorize or prohibit reproduction, widespread communication and adaptation of their works. The Commercial Felony Streaming Act, still pending, but would make unauthorized streaming of copyrighted material for the purpose of "commercial advantage or personal financial gain", a felony.

No one can measure piracy accurately, but a study through MPAA found that $18.2 billion was lost through piracy around the world. Not only is our economy hurting, but the film industry is too. 

1 comment:

Erica Flanagan said...

A serious issue for the film industry is piracy. Illegal copying has resulted in losing the film industry billions of dollars. Since piracy has been around since the 1980s, many of laws and regulations have been created. The MPAA is the main group who tries to restrain the use of copying. In my presentation, I made sure to define what is considered illegal and that is selling or renting to anyone else. Although the use of illegal copying affects the film industry, it also hurts the economy. Lastly, there is has been new technology created to prevent the use of pirating. So to conclude this, if consumers want to continue to see movies they love, they have to stand up against movie thieves. The number of films could decline if piracy continues.