Cablegate: Movie Piracy in Turkey

DE RUEHIT #1449/01 2281316
P 161316Z AUG 06





E.O. 12958: N/A

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1. (SBU) Summary: We recently met with AMPEC, the Motion
Picture Association,s subsidiary in Turkey, to discuss movie
piracy in Turkey and the state of anti-piracy efforts. AMPEC
views current Turkish legislation as sufficient and feels
that its training seminars have helped highlight the problem
for police, making security officials more cooperative.
Well-organized gangs are the lead producers and purveyors of
pirated movie copies, but AMPEC believes that there has been
substantial improvement against piracy in the Turkish market.
However, lengthy litigation and a substantial case backlog
remain as obstacles to successful fulfillment of AMPEC,s
anti-piracy battle. Additionally, problems related to the
destruction of seized materials have resulted in overflowing
warehouses, which in turn has lead to a freeze on police
operations. End Summary.

AMPEC and Movie Piracy in Turkey

2. (SBU) We met on August 11 with Ms. Nilufer Sapancilar,
general manager of the anti-piracy group AMPEC, the Turkish
subsidiary of the Motion Picture Association. AMPEC,s
efforts involve all forms of digital piracy, including work
with MUYAP, a music anti-piracy group, and the Business
Software Alliance (led by Microsoft), as well as with Sony
for its Playstation video games. AMPEC works on two main
fronts. On the "macro level," AMPEC lobbies Parliament and
the responsible ministries for legislative reforms and has an
active public relations campaign. On the "micro level" AMPEC
is directly involved in anti-piracy efforts, setting up
operations with the police and, after successful raids,
tracking court cases to conclusion.

3. (SBU) While noting that it is impossible to be certain,
Sapancilar estimated there are at least 3 million pirated
copies of music and movies in the Turkish market. She also
noted sales of pirated music are becoming less prevalent as
the Internet increasingly becomes the source for illegally
obtained music. Pirated movie downloading is a recent
phenomenon linked to the introduction of high-speed Internet
and AMPEC is seeing an increase in illegal movie downloads.
In previous years, pirated movies were imported into the
Turkish market, but AMPEC now usually encounters domestic
production. Pirated movie production is done through
organized rings that are usually family or regionally-based.
Sapancilar commented that a certain gang known to operate in
Istanbul's Tahtakale district is from the city of Kayseri
while another in the Kadikoy district is made up of people
from eastern Turkey. Legal production facilities are also
involved in illegal production, she explained, citing an
ongoing criminal case against a legitimate factory that also
produced illegal copies.

No Problems with Anti-Piracy Legislation

4. (SBU) When asked how she views the current anti-piracy
legislation, Sapancilar said that the latest law, passed in
2004, "is a good law." She added ruefully that "the best law
was one passed in 2001, but there were problems with
implementation, since fines were too high and judges and
prosecutors were reluctant to punish poor pirates.," "Now
it's different," she added, describing the current sliding
scale of penalties. Sellers now can get up to three months in
jail or a 5,000 YTL fine. Producers of pirated materials
receive a 50,000 to 150,000 YTL fine or two to four years in
jail. Lastly, "banderole" criminals, counterfeiters who
create the holographic stickers used to mark merchandise as
genuine products, can be punished with up to six years in
jail or a 250,000 YTL fine. Sapancilar noted penalties are
adequate when applied properly.

--------------------------------------------- ---------------
Anti-Piracy Operations and Support: Solid Police Cooperation
--------------------------------------------- ---------------

5. (SBU) AMPEC initiates anti-piracy raids based on
information received from their hotline or from in-house
investigations and inspections. Once AMPEC determines that
pirated materials are present at a location, AMPEC lawyers
request a warrant from a judge. Armed with the warrant, AMPEC
works with the police to organize a raid. Following a
successful operation, criminal cases are initiated by the
public prosecutor against the defendant. In Turkish courts,

ISTANBUL 00001449 002.3 OF 002

additional parties may petition to join the case if they feel
that they have been harmed by the defendant. AMPEC takes
advantage of this mechanism to aid the prosecution by
testifying and filing complaints during the court
proceedings. AMPEC lawyers follow cases to their conclusion,
including through the appeals process.

6. (SBU) Sapancilar told us that 95% of operations lead to
criminal charges. The few that do not lead to charges are
usually because "the pirate runs away or is not present, so a
legal case cannot be brought against them." She noted that
cooperation on the part of the police has improved. AMPEC
arranges training seminars for police and municipal officials
to teach them the current law and to train them in spotting
pirated goods. This training has been effective, as she
claims that there has been "an 80% drop in pirated copies in
the market." She underscored that police are cooperative,
judges, realities are changing, and both are seeing the
reality of the damages of piracy. AMPEC works most frequently
with the Istanbul Police since it feels that municipal
authorities and market police (zabita) lack the will and
capability to crack down on piracy. Unfortunately, many of
the Istanbul police officers AMPEC has worked with have been
sent elsewhere in Turkey, requiring a constant training
effort on AMPEC,s part. The next AMPEC seminar is scheduled
for September 5.

--------------------------------------------- -----------------
After the Raids: Problems With Court Backlogs and Seized Goods
--------------------------------------------- -----------------

7. (SBU) Despite the vast majority of raids resulting in
criminal cases, the conviction rate is still disappointingly
low. Sapancilar noted that prosecutions are lengthy and in
the meantime, pirates continue with their illegal activities.
This is a significant problem for AMPEC and a topic of
discussion with the MPA. Sapancilar stressed that AMPEC,s
biggest difficulties are the backlog of cases and the long
duration of court cases.

8. (SBU) Another problem is the difficulty AMPEC faces in
destroying seized goods. Normally, seized goods are stored
either in warehouses run by AMPEC or by the public
prosecutor's office during the trial. However, even after a
conviction is obtained, a special court decision is needed to
destroy the pirated copies, according to Sapancilar. She
commented that it "takes a long time to get those decisions,
so in the meantime the warehouses are filled up and they have
run out of space to store the seized goods." Due to the lack
of space to store seized goods, police have temporarily
stopped raids.


9. (SBU) AMPEC sees "implementation getting better and better
everyday," emphasized Sapancilar. "If you had talked to me a
year and a half ago, I would have had many more complaints,
but things are better now and improving." Improvement does
seem to be the message. AMPEC seminars appear to be creating
awareness of the seriousness of the problem and a more
cooperative police force. AMPEC views legislation as
adequate, however the backlog of cases and the length of time
it takes to adjudicate a case impair effective
implementation. Additionally, the current system for
destroying seized pirated goods is not adequate, as a lack of
storage space makes it impossible for police to continue
anti-piracy raids.

© Scoop Media

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