Washington: Copyright piracy could take a bigger toll on US movies in the current global economic slowdown, including in China where nine out of 10 DVDs sold are pirated, Hollywood’s top lobbyist said on Tuesday.
“This is a high priority issue,” said Motion Picture Association of America head Dan Glickman, who expressed concern that the dire financial situation would make pirated movies more popular on the streets and online.
“If you look at the situation, the current economic crisis makes this problem much more serious than before,” he told a forum. “If we don’t protect IPR (intellectual property rights), our economic losses will be far worse.”
US studios are saddled with $6 billion in annual losses due to piracy but the total global cost to the motion picture industry is three times as high, said Glickman, a former Democratic congressman and agriculture secretary in the Clinton administration.
Film and television drive about $60 billion in annual US economic activity and support 1.3 million American jobs, he said at the forum held by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Unlike the burgeoning US trade deficit in goods, Glickman said American movies ran a surplus with virtually every country, with about 60% of box office and home video receipts coming from outside the United States.
Citing the James Bond movie Quantum of Solace as an example, Glickman said 70% of the $500 million grossed as at last weekend came from overseas after it dominated five weeks of global box office.
“The film premiered in London and opened in more than 60 countries - China to Chile to the Czech Republic - all before premiering in the US,” he said.
Glickman urged China to step up its crackdown on copyright piracy and allow more US movies into the world’s most populous nation, saying greater access would enable US studios to invest more in local ventures.
Of the hundreds of US films released annually, “no more than 20 are permitted to be seen in Chinese theatres,” he said. “This fuels the black market for these essentially ‘forbidden´ films,” he said.