June 11 I went to New York City to attend meetings and
a charity dinner. After the dinner I took a stroll through
Times Square to watch the summertime street action. The
sidewalk vendors enjoyed good business that night, including
one young man who had DVDs spread out on a blanket in
front of him. I stopped to see what he had. For a cool
10 bucks a piece, you could buy several recent titles
including “Hollywood Homicide” and “Bruce
Almighty.” The latter picture had been in theatres
less than three weeks, while the former title was scheduled
for its theatrical debut on June 13, two days after my
We have all read about the number
of movie titles appearing on the Internet shortly after,
and in some cases shortly
before, the theatrical release. Internet access is troubling
enough. But with DVDs hitting the streets prior to the
break of the film, the situation has reached troubling
Piracy is no longer just “their” problem.
It’s our problem too. That’s why NATO has
added piracy to our priority list. Beginning with ShoWest
2003, we have focused on several initiatives to combat
this menacing problem.
Our efforts must begin with PREVENTION.
Most evidence suggests that sophisticated pirates obtain
in post-production, or in advance screenings. As theatre
owners, we must work with our partners in distribution
to address the advance screening issue. As you know,
the studios have undertaken a variety of sophisticated
activities to detect and thwart recording of movies at
screenings. From “wanding” to searches to
night goggles and more, these techniques can be very
effective in detecting piracy. They can also intimidate
the attendees. We will work to better educate our patrons
and screening attendees so they understand and become
comfortable with these activities. And we will work with
the studios to find the appropriate balance between piracy
prevention and patron enjoyment.
Piracy is no
longer just “their” problem.
It’s our problem too. That’s why NATO
has added piracy to our priority list.
Each NATO member should adopt a company
policy to combat piracy, working with their staff to
identify and then
expel patrons with recording equipment. NATO counsel
has developed language that can be used for signage on
this issue (please contact the NATO offices for a copy
of that language.)
Prevention also entails EDUCATION.
We must find ways to teach consumers that theft of a
movie or a song off
the Internet is just like stealing a video from a retailer.
Piracy affects the ability of the industry to produce
more and better product. Piracy costs jobs – and
not just for the rich and famous, but for hundreds of
thousands of ordinary workers.
Early efforts to raise these themes
in the trailer format have met with some mixed audience
reactions. So we’ll
all need to refine the message until we find something
Prevention will also be enhanced through
TOUGHER LAWS AND PENALTIES.
The MPAA is pushing for legislation in
various states and Congress that would expand the legal
parameters against piracy. NATO supports these efforts,
and we are lobbying and raising our concerns where we
On the international level, we seek
strengthened legal protections as well. As described
in this space previously,
NATO has joined with various other organizations to form
a coalition to support international trade agreements
that help prevent piracy. Our international members have
asked NATO to work for stronger laws and penalties against
piracy. But these efforts also help our domestic members.
Many online pirated movies and even DVDs that penetrate
the U.S. market originate overseas.
The onset of the digital age has provided
wonderful opportunities for the entertainment industry,
and significant challenges.
We must all work to defeat movie piracy before it’s