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Cablegate: Stealing the Show -- Private Industry Anti-Piracy Efforts

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PP RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHROV
DE RUEHLO #1171/01 1161338
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 251338Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY LONDON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8382
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHBL/AMCONSUL BELFAST 1037
RUEHED/AMCONSUL EDINBURGH 0922

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 LONDON 001171

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON KIPR UK ECPS
SUBJECT: STEALING THE SHOW -- PRIVATE INDUSTRY ANTI-PIRACY EFFORTS
IN THE UK

LONDON 00001171 001.2 OF 002


1. (U) Summary: Participants at a seminar on industry's efforts to
stop film piracy broadly agreed on the need to outlaw camcording of
films in cinemas. The industry is working with law enforcement to
prosecute the organized crime families who produce counterfeit
DVD's. Previous public outreach campaigns to link pirated materials
with organized crime have not been effective, so industry is now
trying to create a social stigma around the purchase of counterfeit
DVD's. Online piracy is growing and internet service providers,
concerned about privacy and other issues, are resisting cooperation
with content providers to find a solution. End Summary

2. (U) On April 23, 2008, the UK Film Council organized a seminar on
private industry efforts to stop film piracy and on challenges they
face. Rupert Gavin, CEO of cinema chain Odeon, opened the seminar
with a talk on the lack of a law against camcording in cinemas in
the UK. He said that such laws in the U.S. and elsewhere have
encouraged criminals to move their activities to the UK. A large
percentage of pirated films originate as recordings of UK cinema
screenings. The industry is lobbying HMG to address this issue.

3. (U) The Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) focuses on
investigating and prosecuting individuals at the highest levels of
organized crime who produce pirated DVD's for sale in the UK. The
major film companies established FACT in 1983 to combat film piracy.
Working closely with the police and the Office of Fair Trading
(OFT), they investigate DVD peddlers and gather information for the
police to use in their investigations. FACT says that Chinese
organized crime syndicates control the majority of pirated DVD sales
in the UK. The police do not have enough resources to arrest
street-level sellers of fake DVD's and some boroughs will not
prosecute them. FACT believes the everyday presence of these vendors
contributes to the public perception that copyright theft is not a
serious crime. In fact, research presented at the conference shows
that many neighborhoods regard these pirated DCD sellers as someone
providing a public service, similar to an ice cream truck.

4. (U) The Industry Trust for IP Awareness (ITIPA) said its earlier
campaigns to link organized crime and copyright theft in consumers'
minds had no noticeable impact on the sales of pirated DVD's.
Industry survey and focus group results reveal that although the
majority of consumers understand there is a link between film piracy
and crime, they still rationalize their decisions to purchase
pirated DVD's, because of the huge price difference. For many
consumers, legitimate DVD's or cinema tickets are unaffordable, and
they have little sympathy for Hollywood producers who have a
glamorous, wealthy image. ITIPA has determined that ads providing
logical reasons for not buying pirated DVD's are not very effective.
Instead, now they are creating ads with an emotional appeal. They
want to create a social stigma surrounding the purchase of fake
DVD's with their character "Knock Off Nigel."
(www.knockoffornot.com) However, a Google search by Econoff for
Knock Off Nigel quickly reveals that the ads may not have
credibility with their intended audience. Most of the comments
online from private citizens seem very cynical of the ITIPA's
efforts.

5. (U) Thomas Dillon of the Motion Picture Association (MPA)
believes that online film piracy is a massive problem that will
continue to grow if left unchecked. There were 52 million illegal
downloads in the UK in 2007. The MPA says that increased bandwidth
speeds and ever-increasing ease of movie downloading will cause this
number to grow. There were over 180 million illegal downloads in
Spain in 2007 and film and DVD revenues decreased by six percent two
years in a row. The MPA says that although there is no concrete
connection, the film industry in South Korea has seen its sales
plummet as that country has rolled out super-fast broadband to over
80 percent of the population.

6. (U) Dillon is also concerned at the lack of cooperation from
internet service providers (ISP's) in the attempt to reach a
solution to the problem of online piracy. The Gowers Review said
that if content providers and UK ISP's could not reach their own
solution to internet film piracy, the government should legislate a
solution. The Gowers Review is an independent report on the UK
intellectual property framework commissioned by the Chancellor of
the Exchequer in 2006. Charles Dunstone of Carphone Warehouse, a
leading British ISP, recently told BBC that ISP's are not
responsible for policing the internet.

7. (U) John Woodward, CEO of the UK Film Council, believes the
government will not pass legislation banning camcorders in cinemas
and will focus on online piracy He also predicts that HMG will have
to legislate guidelines for ISP's on how to deal with online piracy.
ISP's are concerned that they could be held liable for giving
content providers or the police information on their customers. In
addition, ISP's worry that if they bar their customers from
distributing copyrighted material; they could lose those customers

LONDON 00001171 002.2 OF 002


to competitors. However, Woodward believes that the Gower's Review
and other reports have raised the government's awareness of IP
issues.

8. (SBU) Comment: Despite the film industry's best efforts, British
consumer apathy towards copyright infringement seems to be the
biggest obstacle faced by the film industry in its anti-piracy
efforts. While not as ubiquitous as in other countries, purchasing
"knock-off" DVD's in pubs and elsewhere is widely practiced in the
UK and viewed as socially acceptable. The government's push to make
broadband internet access faster and more widely available combined
with more user friendly online software for downloading pirated
films means that the film industry faces an uphill battle in its
fight to protect its copyrighted materials in the UK. End Comment.


TUTTLE

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