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MPAA/NYC Change the Course
October 23, 2006
Thomas Mennecke
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It’s hard to avoid walking down a New York City street and not stumble upon some form of pirated CDs or DVDs. Even if one were to sit quietly on a park bench, there’s a good chance piracy will find you. Bootleg plants crank out the pirated CDs or DVDs, and typically employ the homeless or others down on their luck individuals to distribute the goods.

There’s little the City of New York or the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) can or are willing to do about the low level seller. Besides, there are plenty of downtrodden individuals in New York who would jump at the opportunity to sell bootleg DVDs or CDs in return for a few dollars. But in an attempt to resolve this menace, the City of New York and the MPAA have decided to change the course and apply pressure at the source of the distribution.

In a joint press conference in New York today, the City and the MPAA have laid out several new anti-piracy initiatives. The first “innovative” measure, according to the press release, is the introduction of legislation to criminalize the reproduction of copyrighted works – especially filming in theaters. Currently, such reproduction is covered only under civil law – and the consequences of discovery are negligible when compared with the potentially lucrative business.

“The City will introduce legislation in the State Legislature to criminalize the illegal recording of copyrighted works and will coordinate with the MPAA to use nuisance abatement laws to shut down piracy operations in buildings across the City,” the press release stated.

There’s an important financial perspective to note as well. For years, New York City suffered from a lack of on location TV and movie shootings. Often times, alternative cities such as Toronto were used to represent New York City – which meant no money for New York. This situation has changed radically over the last 15 years, as New York has become the safest large city in the United States. According to Mayor Mike Bloomberg, the City was host to a record number of TV and movie shootings in 2005.

"We are leading the fight against movie piracy in the City with our unique efforts aimed at protecting local theaters' box office revenues and maintaining the strength of the film industry, which pumps $5 billion in economic activity into the City each year and employs 100,000 New Yorkers," said Mayor Bloomberg.

"Strengthening New York's film industry for the future also means that we need to increase diversity in our entertainment production workforce, which is why I look forward to receiving the Task Force on Diversity in Film, Television, and Commercial Production's recommendations. Supporting the entertainment industry is a vital part of my Administration's five-borough economic development strategy, and we need to ensure that New Yorkers from every background have access to the jobs the film, television and commercial industry is creating."

The City of New York and the MPAA have also introduced an initiative which will identify buildings used for bootleg DVD or CD production. What’s unique about this seemingly mundane detail is that landlords or owners of suspected bootleg factories will be held accountable if they turn a blind eye to piracy operations. Details were not specific as to what punishment would be rendered, other than “substantial fines or the closure of the locations.” Considering the value of real estate in New York, it will be interesting to see what impact this culpability clause will have on land owners.

If this proposed amendment passes the State Legislature, the City of New York will join California as the second major political entity to criminalize theater recording. Those convicted would face a “class E felony, punishable by up to four years in prison.”

This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
Entertainment Industry :: MPAA
Unauthorized Distribution :: Physical Piracy

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