Pirates aren’t what they used to be. No longer content with sailing the seven seas, they’re now entering the open waters of the Internet, searching for new sources of stolen treasure. With a few clicks of a mouse or taps on an iPad, one can find thousands of movies, song recordings and full-featured video games available to download at little to no cost. Sadly, many computer users downloading copyrighted content aren’t even aware that they are trafficking in stolen property.
While a pirate of the Internet might conjure up the image of a mischievous hacker with a gleam in his or her eye, Internet piracy is no laughing matter. With Los Angeles the entertainment capital of the world, we’re highly susceptible to feeling the economic effects of piracy. The entertainment industry generates nearly $1.5 trillion, roughly 11 percent of America’s gross domestic product, according to Paramount Pictures COO Frederick Huntsberry. With an estimated 17 percent of Internet traffic infringing on copyrighted material, all Angelenos have a stake in this thievery.
Policing the Internet for stolen copyrighted material is like draining the Pacific Ocean through a straw – the sheer volume makes it nearly impossible. But several pieces of key legislation are seeking to change that. In California, SB 550 (Padilla) would require large disc-replicating companies to verify that their content complies with anti-piracy laws. At the federal level, The Protect IP Act (Leahy), Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011, would give the Attorney General and those holding copyrights, the power to go after online companies if they support a site that promotes copyright or trademark infringement.
These measures are good first steps in stopping copyright infringement. And much more still needs to be done. The Los Angeles economy pays a particularly heavy price when material is bootlegged. Lost revenue doesn’t just hit film, television and music industry companies in their pocketbook – it directly impacts more than 350,000 entertainment industry employees in our region alone. When a studio or music company loses revenue, there’s a direct impact on Los Angeles jobs, from cast and crew, to post-production services, to ancillary businesses such as caterers, dry-cleaners and florists.
The Chamber’s current quarterly newsletter, Chamber VOICE, is focused on the entertainment industry in Los Angeles and documents the entertainment industry’s powerful economic impact on our region. Join us in supporting legislation to maroon the pirates of the Internet and limiting the sequels.