FACT Figures Horrify UK Film and Record Industry. In the USA, Studios Take Legal Action on Piracy and the FBI Provide a Seal of Authenticity

March 2004

Film, Television, Record Labels, Internet

The Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) have published figures which show the anti-piracy organisation seized almost 1.8 million pirated DVDs in 2003 in the UK – a rise of 405% on the previous year. ELSPA, the trade organisation which represents games manufacturers says it seized more than 250,000 games, a slight increase on 2003; whilst the BPI announced that more than 8 million fake (counterfeit) CDs were sold illegally in the UK in 2003. In all, the anti-piracy groups estimate that fake goods cost the UK industry more than ten billion pounds in 2003 with an alarming increase in the speed by which fake product reaches the public through downloading and digital copying allowing good quality copies to be produced in very short periods. See the Observer, 18 January 2004.

In the USA, Warner Bros and Columbia film studios have reportedly sued an actor and a man arrested for allegedly distributing movie preview tapes over the internet. They have filed complaints in Los Angeles against actor Carmine Caridi – an Oscar voter – and Russell Sprague. The studios claim the men infringed copyrights by copying and distributing copies of the films on VHS and DVD. Films involved allegedly include Mystic River, The Last Samurai and Big Fish. Mr Sprague, 51, of Chicago, has already appeared in court charged with conspiring to violate copyrights on films after being arrested by the FBI. The case involves the alleged pirating of so-called “screener” preview tapes supplied to Oscar voters. According to the Warner lawsuit, Caridi made the films available to Mr Sprague – and possibly others – for unauthorised and illegal use, distribution, exhibition and duplication. After receiving the films from Caridi, Mr Sprague allegedly illegally duplicated, exhibited and distributed the films in violation of Warner Bros’ exclusive interests, the suit added. In an FBI affidavit, Caridi has denied knowing that Mr Sprague was duplicating the tapes. Warner Bros and Columbia are asking for compensation or minimum payments of $150,000 damages from the defendants for each unlawful use of copyrighted material. Studios 20th Century Fox and Disney said they were also considering whether to take action after their films were allegedly found in Mr Sprague’s possession.

In the US, CDs, DVDs, and video games are to get a FBI seal in an attempt to deter people from copying them. The new labels warn consumers that criminal copyright infringement could land them with a $250,000 (,000) fine and five years in prison. They each carry the seal of the FBI, which says piracy is now its third biggest priority behind terrorism and counter-intelligence. US entertainment firms says they are losing billions of dollars to piracy and the FBI have said that “the theft of copyrighted material has grown substantially and has had a detrimental impact on the US economy”. The FBI said it was up to individual companies whether the label appeared on the packaging, or on screen.
See : http://www.fact-uk.org.uk



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