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Date: Thu, 25 Sep 2003 05:34:55 -0400
From: Ruben Safir Secretary NYLXS
To: hangout-at-nylxs.com, fairuse-at-nylxs.com
Subject: [hangout] Movies Fair Use
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Reply-To: Ruben Safir Secretary NYLXS
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Studios Moving to Block Piracy of Films Online By LAURA M. HOLSON
LOS ANGELES, Sept. 24 If Hollywood executives have learned anything
watching their peers in the music business grapple with online file
sharing, it is how not to handle a technological revolution.
While the major labels in the music industry squabbled among themselves
about how best to deal with Internet piracy and failed to develop
consumer-friendly ways to buy music online, the movie industry has gone
on a coordinated offensive to thwart the free downloading of films before
it spins out of control.
This summer, night-vision goggles became a familiar fashion accessory
for security guards at movie premieres as they searched for people in the
audience carrying banned video recorders. The industry's trade association
began a nationwide piracy awareness campaign in movie theaters and on
television. Studios are aggressively putting electronic watermarks on
movie prints so they can determine who is abetting the file sharing. And
some movie executives are considering whether to send out early DVD's
to Academy Award voters, fearing the films will be distributed online.
Also, as early as next month the industry will begin promoting a
"stealing is bad" message in schools, teaming up with Junior Achievement
on an hourlong class for fifth through ninth graders on the history of
copyright law and the evils of online file sharing. The effort includes
games like Starving Artist, in which students pretend to be musicians
whose work is downloaded free from the Internet, and a crossword puzzle
called Surfing for Trouble.
"There is no issue in my life I take as seriously as this," said Peter
Chernin, president and chief operating officer of the News Corporation,
which owns 20th Century Fox. "This is going to be with us for the rest
of our careers. But if we remain focused on it, maybe it won't kill us
and we won't have to panic."
This is not the first time the studios have battled technological advances
they worried they could not control. Back in 1982, Jack Valenti, then as
now the head of the movie industry's trade association, said the threat
of videocassette recorders to the film industry was like that posed by
the Boston Strangler to a woman alone. The studios hope they can find
a way to co-opt online movie swapping as profitably as they did the VCR
and now the DVD player. Still, many in Hollywood fear that online movie
sharing could be the most serious menace to profits so far.
The concern is such that 20 of the film industry's top decision makers,
including Jeffrey Bewkes, chairman of the entertainment group at AOL Time
Warner, and Jeffrey Katzenberg, a co-founder of Dreamworks SKG, attended
a focus group in June at the Museum of Television and Radio in Beverly
Hills. The participants, about 20 college- and high school-age students,
quickly and easily downloaded several current hits at the executives'
request. Next they confirmed what many already knew. "These kids said
they weren't going to stop," Mr. Chernin said.
As a result, in late July the major studios through their lobbying group,
the Motion Picture Association of America, began an advertising campaign,
with the theme "Movies. They're Worth It." It profiles, among others,
a set painter, stuntman and makeup artist.
The music industry, which began feeling the effects of online sharing
four years ago because the relatively small size of music files makes
for much quicker downloads, began running national antipiracy ads only
last year. Executives lament the delay. "It could have had an impact,"
said Hilary Rosen, the former chief executive of the Recording Industry
Association of America, the music industry's trade group.
But music executives then were indecisive about how best to tackle online
file sharing. "I think the music industry has always resembled feudal
warring kingdoms with an underworld edge thrown in," said Martin Kaplan,
a former executive at the Walt Disney Company who is now the director
of the Norman Lear Center at the University of Southern California,
which studies entertainment, business and society. "If you look at Jack
Valenti's French cuffs, it is a different culture. Movie executives
collaboratively deal with joint enemies at the gate."
Many Hollywood executives say there is still time before free Internet
movie swapping takes hold. Internet movie files are still large and
unwieldy, taking as much as two hours to download.
But there is a growing contingent who fear the threat is closer than
some in Hollywood want to admit. Already industry analysts suggest there
could be as many as 500,000 copies of movies swapped daily.
Hollywood is cracking down on what a recent study published by AT&T
Labs found was the source of a large number of movies on the Internet:
movie industry insiders. Now invitations to premieres include a warning
about unauthorized copying. While the film is showing, the audience is
closely monitored by guards.
Many in the entertainment industry privately say that only fear of
reprisals, like the 261 lawsuits filed by the recording industry's
lobbying group this month, will stop consumers from sharing files. But
to change behavior in the long run, they say, consumers particularly
younger ones have to be educated.
This fall the industry's trade association is joining with Junior
Achievement, an organization based in Colorado Springs whose volunteers
lecture students from kindergarten through high school on the fundamentals
of business, economics and free enterprise. An hourlong lesson plan
was created in conjunction with Warner Brothers Entertainment, a unit
of AOL Time Warner, and covers the history of copyright, the economic
benefits of both the music and movie industries, and the consequences
for consumers who violate copyright laws.
Junior Achievement is projecting that the lesson, which will be taught
both in school and after school, will be used in 36,000 classrooms
nationwide and has the potential of reaching 900,000 students in grades
five through nine, or about 10 percent of all students in those grade
In the role-playing activity Starving Artist, for example, groups
of students are encouraged to come up with an idea for a musical act,
write lyrics and design a CD cover only to be told by a volunteer teacher
their work can be downloaded free. According to the lesson, the volunteer
would then "ask them how they felt when they realized that their work
was stolen and that they would not get anything for their efforts."
Some in Hollywood and in education circles wonder if it is appropriate
for the movie industry to be teaching children about the moral and ethical
consequences of downloading when the legal and cultural issues are still
being worked out. "You have to ask the threshold question, `Should any
outside entity be allowed in the classroom?' " said Mr. Kaplan of the
University of Southern California.
David Chernow, chief executive of Junior Achievement, counters by saying
the industry's message that downloading is stealing is an ethical lesson
not to be ignored.
Still, Hollywood executives agree that to succeed in changing minds, they
have to come up with easy and cheap online alternatives to free downloads.
Movielink, the industry's first major effort, has met limited success
so far. Started last November by five major studios, including Sony
Pictures Entertainment and Warner Brothers, Movielink allows consumers
to rent downloadable films via the Internet for 99 cents to $4.99.
But even some in the industry say Movielink is not flexible enough. Users
cannot burn movies onto discs, and must watch the movies on a computer
screen. And while rented films stay on customers' hard drives for 30
days before they disappear, the customers have only 24 hours to finish
the film once they hit play.
Movielink recently rolled out an improved version of its product,
and is backing it with an ad campaign aimed mostly at college
students. Entertainment executives said the industry's fate would be
decided more by the success of services like Movielink than a public
relations campaign. "Movie executives have to be aggressive in their
business strategy right off the bat," Ms. Rosen said. "Frankly if they
don't take that view given what has happened in the music business,
they should all be fired."
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