Bloomberg unveils anti-piracy campaign


NEW YORK -- With top filmmakers, policemen, government officials and a Motion Picture Association of America rep by his side, Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled a new anti-film piracy campaign featuring TV and theater public service announcements and bus shelter ads.

Bloomberg also signed legislation upping illegal videotaping in movie theaters from a violation to a misdemeanor, with an increase in maximum jail time from 15 days to six months and fines upped from a $250 maximum to $5000, plus up to $5,000 in civil penalties. In what he described as a three-pronged approach to fight piracy, Bloomberg also announced that the New York Police Department has seized almost 200,000 pirated DVDs this year.

The city's enforcement could have global implications. A new MPAA study revealed that New York City is the source of 43% of pirated DVDs camcorded in theaters that have been tracked in the US, and 20% of pirated films seized worldwide.

"Video piracy is not a victimless crime - it kills jobs for New Yorkers," said Bloomberg. "Not only does piracy drive up the costs of videos and movie tickets and harm our economy, but every New York consumer is being cheated by poor quality goods."

Producer and Tribeca Film Festival co-founder Jane Rosenthal and director Jay Roach joined him at the conference to show their support. MPAA vp and director of U.S. anti-piracy operations Mike Robinson also attended, as did police commissioner Ray Kelly, criminal justice coordinator John Feinblatt and Film, Theatre & Broadcasting commissioner Katherine Oliver.

The MPAA study also found that NYC's motion picture industry has an estimated $1.49 billion in lost annual output from global and local film piracy, resulting in 22,986 fewer jobs and $903 million in lost earnings.

The PSAs will feature scenes from Warner Bros.' Oscar-winning animated film "Happy Feet" as it might look in a pirated version. PSAs and ads feature parodies of MPAA ratings, including "RO" for Ripped-Off, "PS" for Poor Sound, "SP" for Stupid Purchase and "OV" for Obstructed View.

The TV ads will be aired on local free and cable stations beginning next month. They will appear in theaters imminently, and the bus shelter ads will be placed in mid-May. Both the PSAs and print ads were created by local production co.