MPA says Asia camcording slowed

Operation ZoomOut taught exhibitors piracy crack down

BANGKOK -- Illegal video recording of Hollywood films playing in Asia dropped an average of 41.6% during the year-end holiday season due to stepped-up training of cinema staff around the region, the Motion Picture Association of America said on Tuesday.

Between Nov. 24 and the end of January, MPA training helped Asian cinema exhibitors and distributors crack down on illegal "camcording" in Asia, reducing the weekly average number of pirated copies coming from the region to 1.4 from 2.4 before the training began, the MPA said in a statement from Hong Kong.

As part of the 10-week Operation ZoomOut, over 360 participants received a copy of the MPA's "Make A Difference 2" video training package for cinema staff and enforcement officers.

The MPA training taught the deployment of cinema patrols, some equipped with night vision goggles, and sought the establishment reward schemes at theaters where management works with customers to display and distribute anti-piracy posters highlighting camcording as a criminal offence.

During the 10 weeks ended Feb. 1, 14 camcordings were traced back to Asia, where six people were arrested for illegal recording in theaters. This compares with the 113 camcordings traced to theaters in Asia in the previous 46 weeks of 2008.

"All these measures have served to deter criminals from engaging in illegal camcording," said Mike Ellis, the MPA's Asia president. "The efforts made on the part of exhibitors across the region must also remain and be reinforced constantly for these measures to have a significant impact.”

Operation ZoomOut also saw the arrest of 370 suspected pirates, as well as seizures of more than four million pirated optical discs and 767 optical disc burners, capable of producing hundreds of thousands of pirated movies a year and potentially millions in illicit revenue.

Operation ZoomOut was conducted in Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.