Hollywood coalition seeks stronger IP enforcement

A coalition of more than a dozen entertainment industry groups has sent a letter to the US Congress expressing a desire to work with lawmakers to update intellectual property law and strengthen piracy enforcement.

“In the case of the entertainment industry, the theft of motion picture and television productions threatens the economic vitality of our business, and the millions of American working men, women and local small businesses that depend on it,” the coalition said. In the letter, the groups said that they support the federal government’s efforts so far.

In November 2010, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) seized 82 website domains involved in selling counterfeit goods and copyrighted works. The industry credits ICE’s efforts to protect intellectual property with putting illegal sites out of business and raising public awareness about online piracy.

“Stealing and illegally selling this content may appear to be victimless crimes or a harmless form of theft, but they are neither. If it is not made clear that this kind of activity is illegal, it has the potential to become the harbinger of even more forms of illegal activity on the Internet,” the groups said.

The letter drew attention to a January 2011 report by Envisional, an independent Internet consulting company, which suggested that more than 17 per cent of US. Internet traffic infringes upon a copyright, with the majority of it taking place on peer-to-peer networks. Films represent more than a third of the material shared in these networks, the report found.

“This is a level of theft that cannot be sustained without significant damage to the motion picture industry, the workforce it supports and the American economy,” the groups said.

Organisations that signed the letter included the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Deluxe Entertainment Services Group; Directors Guild of America; Independent Film & Television Alliance; International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees; Motion Picture Association of America; National Assn. of Theatre Owners; News Corp.; Screen Actor’s Guild; Universal Studios; Sony Pictures Entertainment; Viacom; Walt Disney Studios and Warner Bros. Entertainment.

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