MPA chief Charles Rivkin put piracy front and center at his CinemaCon keynote, touting the ongoing recovery in the entertainment sector but noting gains will always be crimped when intellectual property keeps being ripped off.
He spoke to thousands of cinema owners at the Las Vegas confab, as the association that reps the biggest U.S. studios turns 100 this year and theatrical content slowly returns to pre-pandemic levels.
“Piracy’s dramatic evolution, and our equally dramatic response is a compelling drama, with all the international intrigue and high-stakes action you’d see in any marquee movie. The difference is that the perpetrators, and the threat they pose to our industry, are very real,” Rivkin said. “We have no illusions about the scope and the severity of the problem,” he said.
“For us to have any kind of meaningful impact, many things must continue to fall into place, including working with governments around the world to expand our pirate site-blocking efforts, and more broadly, driving a sea change in the consumer culture that understands why piracy harms – us all.”
Piracy is a long-term problem but recently theater owners and the theatrical community have noted it ratcheting up and become more pernicious with the expansion of streaming as windows shrink and clean digital copies of film are available immediately. “Streams can be ripped in a matter of seconds,” and distributed across the world,” Rikvin said.
Describing the scope of the challenge, he noted that leading piracy site ‘F.movies’ has 80 million visits a month with half from the U.S. – more than the sites of Grubhub, Starbucks and Major League Baseball. Some pirated services come with subscriptions that cost $10 to $20 a month, offering Live and catch-up TV, pre-release, and post-release films (and television shows), live sports content – the full array. And they often look state of the art.
Back In 2017, MPA created the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment, or ACE, a global coalition of our six MPA studios and the world’s biggest entertainment companies, including Apple TV+, and Amazon Studios, AMC Networks, BBC and Canal Plus. ACE is up to 40 members, just added a new live, sports tier. BeIN Sports, a Qatar-based sports broadcaster available in 41 countries, just signed on.
Other local partners in Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East will follow.
The MPA’s chief content protection officer heads an elite division of more than 100 top-of-the-line professionals, in everything from high-tech surveillance and investigating to cybersecurity, working with organizations like Interpol and Europol and a vast network of local law enforcement. And MPA recently concluded an agreement with the Department of Homeland Security (the first of its kind) that embeds MPA investigation experts inside DHS itself.
“Now we’re really making a difference,” Rivkin said.
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