Study: Weak protection aiding Canadian piracy

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OTTAWA -- Major Hollywood studios lose an annual CAN$270 million ($243 million) in revenue from pirated DVDs sold into the Canadian market, with the loss in tax revenues to Ottawa put at CAN$41 million ($37 million), the Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network reported Monday.

The 52-page report from the CACN, which represents Canadian intellectual property rights holders, argues that weak intellectual property protection and enforcement was causing an "explosive growth of piracy" here.

The report was released as representatives of major studios appeared Monday in Ottawa before an all-party committee investigating domestic counterfeiting and piracy.

Douglas Frith, president of the Canadian Motion Picture Distributors Assn., told the parliamentary committee that lax Canadian copyright laws enables widespread "camcording" in domestic movie theaters, which is feeding a growing pipeline of bootleg DVDs sold internationally.

"It's a huge concern that, within hours of opening a movie in Canada, it's in 130 countries illegally," Frith said of pirated studio releases originating from Canada.

The CACN report also spotlighted unauthorized camcording in Canada.

"Despite our relatively small population, Canada is now a primary source for unauthorized camcording of newly released motion pictures, which are then used worldwide in the production of illegal optical discs," the report said.

The CACN estimated that, in 2005, about 20% of all worldwide copies of bootleg DVDs originated from camcorders used in a Canadian cinema.

Frith told the Canadian politicians that watermarking technology enables U.S. studios to determine the exact theater where unauthorized camcording took images from new Hollywood releases off the screen, adding that the illegal product originates from theaters in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia.

Etan Vlessing in Toronto contributed to this story.
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