MPA Plans to Enlist Congress in Its Fight Against Movie Piracy

The Motion Picture Association is stepping up its anti-piracy efforts to counter the increasingly sophisticated operations of global intellectual property thieves. The gauntlet was laid down by MPA Chairman and CEO Charles Rivkin in an address at CinemaCon 2024, where he said the offenders “aren’t teenagers playing an elaborate prank,” but are “real-life mobsters, organized crime syndicates,” responsible for the loss of more than $1 billion at the domestic box office. Rivkin — formerly U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for economic and business affairs — said he will “work with Congress to enact judicial site-blocking legislation here in the United States.”

The thieves “operate websites that draw in millions of unsuspecting viewers whose personal data can then fall prey to malware and hackers,” Rivkin told the crowd at CinemaCon. And piracy “is not a victimless crime,” Rivkin added, describing how “it steals hundreds of thousands of jobs from workers.”

“It’s true: piracy has gone up in recent years,” confirms The Verge, saying how “a report from piracy data analytics company MUSO revealed that video piracy websites around the globe received 141 billion visits in 2023, making for a 12 percent increase when compared to 2019,” with most of those visits occurring in the United States and India.

“At the same time, the price to subscribe to a streaming service is higher than ever, and so is the cost of a movie ticket,” The Verge points out.

But while the MPA advocates “site blocking” as a way to combat pirates, opponents including the Electronic Frontier Foundation say that approach violates free speech.

“If the MPA’s plan sounds familiar, it’s because it has tried this before. It helped hatch the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in 2012, which would’ve restricted access to websites containing pirated content,” The Verge writes, noting that the SOPA bill “was dropped after facing heavy criticism.” Opponents included Google and Wikipedia.

Rivkin said a site-blocking law “would allow film, television, music, and book publishers to request in court that Internet providers block websites that share illegal or stolen content,” according to Quartz.

TV accounted for most of the visits to online piracy sites in 2023, “at 103.9 billion, up 4 percent from 2022,” writes Quartz, citing the MUSO study. “That was followed by film at 29.6 billion visits, an increase of about 7 percent. Music piracy saw the highest growth in media pilfering, a 13 percent increase with 17.1 billion visits in 2023,” Quartz notes.

MPA members include Hollywood largest content producers, including Disney, Netflix, Paramount, Sony, Universal and Warner Bros. Discovery.

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