The threat of online piracy to the movie business dominated the debate at the British Screen Advisory Council’s annual film conference in London.
“We’re about to reach a fork in the road,” warned Icon UK chairman Stewart Till. “One fork leads to easy digital distribution, and if it’s done in a controlled way, film revenues could explode. But the other leads to uncontrolled pirated films with no legitimate revenues, and we’ll go the same way as the music business.”
“The new digital model hasn’t kicked in yet, except insofar as it enables piracy,” agreed Stephen Garrett, executive chairman of Kudos Film & TV. “The music industry was the canary in the mine, and we’ve spectacularly failed to learn any lessons from it.”
Patrick Walker, YouTube’s senior director of content partnerships for Europe, Middle East and Africa, suggested that the film industry needs to move more quickly to “develop new models to meet consumer expectations.” YouTube is “trying to work with the industry to protect rights,” he said.
Till argued that the solution for the film industry is to shrink the window between theatrical and online/DVD release to just 30 days; to promote day-and-date theatrical distribution worldwide; and for governments to adopt tougher anti-piracy measures to make illegal downloading as difficult as possible.