M+E Daily

Content Protection Summit: Consumer Education Key to Prevailing Over Piracy

by Marcy Magiera

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif.— The most important weapon against movie piracy may be consumer education, “The Hurt Locker” producer Nicholas Chartier said today at Content Protection Summit 2011, presented here by Variety and CDSA.

If worldwide piracy is not controlled, Chartier predicted, investors like him will finance fewer movies and make only safe bets, resulting in fewer and less original movies made overall and less opportunity for new filmmaking talent.

Chartier has developed a reputation as an anti-piracy crusader since his Voltage Pictures last year began taking legal action against people in numerous countries around the world who illegally downloaded “The Hurt Locker.” It’s a role he assumed after reports showed “The Hurt Locker” was one of the most pirated movies after its release and Academy Award wins, with seven million downloads, he said.

“In the end, it’s about these [smaller] movies getting a life,” the producer said of his anti-piracy campaign.

In an on-stage interview with Variety’s senior film critic Peter DeBruge, Chartier said that in territories around the world, illegal downloads go down 20 percent to 30 percent within a week of the delivery of thousands of letters to suspected infringers, and attendant media coverage. “You go into one country, and the week after you see the numbers go down,” said Chartier. “Piracy is going down in Germany because every German distributor is going after pirates through legal challenges.”

Voltage last week took its campaign to Canada, where it began sending letters to suspected illegal downloaders asking them to pay a hefty fee or risk being sued.

Consumers — both in the U.S. and in foreign markets where home entertainment consumption is almost exclusively of pirated content, like Spain and Russia — need to be educated, Chartier said, because many people have the attitude that they want to see a movie before spending money for it, and heavy media users think they should have this right because they influence others to see movies.

“It’s psychological. People don’t understand that something that is virtual, and just an image on their computer is worth money,” Chartier said.

Some people believe movies are too expensive and take too long to get to the home, Chartier noted, but he added, “the same people are paying $50 for a videogame and they buy it because games are better protected and they can’t steal it.”

Throughout the Content Protection Summit’s morning presentations, experts discussed the multiplying threats to content security and the increasingly related issues of privacy and digital safety.

Security expert and author Tom Patterson and Spencer Mott, chief information security officer for Electronic Arts, discussed new sources of security threats, including a tech-savvy generation of young people, organized crime, state-sponsored cyber-crime and terrorist organizations.

Threats to entertainment companies include not only theft of intellectual property but also payment card data, consumer data, and the very ability to provide services, Mott said.

In a case study presented on the challenges of Microsoft’s global Kinect launch, Aaron Kornblum, the company’s director of security policy, interactive entertainment business, emphasized the interrelatedness of anti-piracy, privacy and online safety issues.

“You cannot divorce the topic of privacy from security,” he said, in explaining Microsoft’s approach to preventing the Kinect accessory from being used as portal to hack Xbox consoles or the Xbox Live network.