MPA in Asian anti-camcording push

Operation ZoomOut targets 13 countries 'til Feb '09

BANGKOK - The Motion Picture Association on Monday began a biannual crackdown on illegal camcording of new movies released in cinemas in 13 Asia-Pacific countries.
Through the year-end holiday and pre-Lunar New Year moviegoing season, Operation ZoomOut, much like a similar initiative during the summer blockbuster season, aims to cutback on the source of more than 90% of newly released movies that end up on the Internet and in street markets around the world, the MPA said in a statement from Hong Kong.

"These recordings often appear online within hours or days of a movie premiere, triggering an avalanche of illegal downloads that can significantly impact a film’s performance at the box office and throughout its distribution cycle," the lobby group for Hollywood's major studios said.

Acknowledging that U.S.-based pirates are the world's largest source of illegally copied films, the MPA claims that the problem is growing faster in Asia than elsewhere and that the Hollywood studios lost $1.2 billion in ticket sales across the region due to piracy in 2005, the last year for which the group has thorough data.
In 2008 so far, the MPA said that there have been 96 illegal recordings forensically matched to theaters in the Asia-Pacific region, representing a fivefold increase over the same period in 2007 when there were 19.
The MPA said that to coincide with the initiative set to end January 31, 2009, it also would give regional cinemas an updated version of its "Make A Difference" package to train cinema staff help police catch camcorders.

"Illegal recordings in cinemas go to the very heart of the piracy ecosystem, the theft of movies in cinemas," said Mike Ellis, the MPA's regional president, adding that the problem carried an annual price tag of $6 billion worldwide all "in order to enrich criminals who never lifted a finger, except to push a record button."
Ellis said the MPA was working closely with governments to bring regional anti-camcording legislation or deterrent penalties to the same level that exist in the U.S., Japan and Hong Kong.
Over the past four years, eight MPA anti-piracy sweeps have seen more than 5,400 arrests and resulted in the seizure of more than 39.5 million optical discs.
Operation ZoomOut will be conducted in Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.