Creative America, a group launched over the summer to support Hollywood's anti-piracy campaign, recently released the video above, explaining that thousands of jobs and billions of dollars are lost because of online piracy of movies, music and television.
In the video, writer and producer Bruce Leddy shares his experience of piracy of his independent film "Wedding Weekend," the costs of which he was hoping to cover through DVD sales. "Literally, the day the film was released on DVD, I got four emails.. saying, 'Watch the Wedding Weekend here for free'.. And I could click on that link, and my movie would start instantly. These sites.. are making money. I didn't. I lost my money. It makes you angry, embarrassed, frustrated because there's not recourse. I can't call up bit torrent and say, 'Hey, that's my movie! Stop giving it away!'"
Creative America's effort continues a battle between two of California's most lucrative and powerful industries: Hollywood vs. Silicon Valley. Hollywood, claiming the film, music and television industry is being threatened by Internet piracy, is lobbying for the House of Representatives's Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Senate's Protect IP Act. Internet giants are fighting back, saying the legislation qualifies as Internet censorship and would not solve the piracy problem.
As the Associated Press reports, the pending legislation would allow copyright holders to force credit card companies and online advertising companies, including Google, to drop websites that distribute pirated material. The Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce argue the legislation is necessary because online piracy results in an estimated $135 million in lost revenue a year.
In response, a group of Internet companies, including Google, AOL, eBay, Facebook, Yahoo and Twitter, wrote a letter to legislators saying, "We are concerned that these measures pose a serious risk to our industry's continued track record of innovation and job creation, as well as to our nation's cybersecurity," Reuters reports. Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said in a presentation to the MIT Sloan School of Management, "The solutions are draconian. There's a bill that would require [Internet service providers] to remove URLs from the Web, which is also known as censorship last time I checked."
Schmidt added that advertisers should be targeted. "The correct solution, which we've repeatedly said, is to follow the money," Schmidt said. "Making it more explicitly illegal to make money from that type of content is what we recommend."
Each industry has spent over $90 million lobbying Congress and the public for support, the Los Angeles Times reports. A coalition of Internet companies has published full-page ads this month in major newspapers warning that the pending anti-piracy legislation would set a dangerous precedent.
According to the LA Times, because the anti-piracy legislation has bipartisan support, it is likely that it will pass next year, although with a narrower scope than Hollywood is lobbying for.
If it was up to voters, according to a US survey by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, only a slim majority, 52%, of Americans would support penalties for downloading pirated music or movies. That's probably because, according to the survey, 46% of Americans have downloaded copyrighted material themselves.
Watch for a more technical explanation of SOPA and the Protect IP Act: