The motion picture industry across the Asia Pacific is constantly working to develop new and innovative business models to distribute digital content to consumers.  Unfortunately, these efforts are greatly hampered by widespread and often uncheck distribution of unauthorized copies of content.

Opportunities to develop and enrich the motion picture industry are lost to criminals who make substantial sums operating infringing websites facilitating illegal content distribution. These losses are felt not only by local screen communities but flow through the wider economy, impacting on a wide spectrum of jobs and businesses.  Recent studies by IPSOS and Oxford Economics on losses to local economies in several countries as a consequence of content theft illustrate the scale of the damage.

Streaming Theft

There are a lot of sites and apps that allows illegal and unlicensed video viewing, paying no royalties to the hardworking people in the creative industry.  Some sites/ apps offers videos for free, while some some, offers either one off or monthly subscription.  This means that the website owner/ app developer serves illegal content, and get huge amount of money from ad serving or from the subscription payments.

The legal way to stream a video is if the video is being streamed through legal channels: either through licensed channels like HULU, Globe HOOQ and Smart Viewstream or through the official Vimeo, DailyMotion or YouTube channels.

Peer to Peer (P2p) Theft

Peers allow some of their resources – processing power, network bandwidth, disk storage – directly available to other peers in the network. P2P in itself is not illegal, it is a great way to share files and maximize the downloading speed of your content.  It only becomes illegal when the content being downloaded is unlicensed. When a person joins a public P2P network to download illegal content, they are also automatically distributing illegal content as well.

The only acceptable materials that should be shared via P2P are the ones that you purchased or subscribed to, or huge company/ personal files that are privately exchanged.  MMORPG games files and its updates are huge, and downloading these via P2P is the only way for players to enjoy these games. Work related files, especially those related in the IT industry also uses P2P as a means to distribute files internally.

Signal Theft

Signal Theft refers to the act of illegally misappropriating satellite signals without authorization.  Those involved with signal theft often provide consumers with illegal cable decoders or satellite descramblers in order to provide unauthorized access to satellite broadcasts.

Internationally, the problem becomes more acute when programs not otherwise legally available to a particular country at that time are stolen from satellites and then re-transmitted in that country either by cable or broadcast TV.

Screener Theft

Illegal copies of films are sometimes made from legitimate, advance copies used for post-production screening or marketing purposes called “screeners”. As with film print theft, this type of theft is rare.

However, there are some unfortunate instances where the source of stolen movies is found to be screeners.  To protect against screener leaks, the studios undertake stringent security measures to ensure screeners are delivered to the correct addresses and end up in the hands of the intended viewer.

Optical Disc Theft

Optical disc theft – also known as “bootlegging” – is the illegal manufacturing, sale and/or distribution of movies in hard copy or disc format.  Bootleggers sometimes have elaborate operations where they replicate DVDs and Blu-ray discs and then distribute them to vendors who sell them illegally on the streets.

There is strong evidence that many of these operations are run by the same organized crime networks that traffic in drugs and human beings.  Others may have small operations in their homes and even places of work. These illegal goods can be sold anywhere: on websites, online auction sites, via e-mail, by street vendors and in flea markets around the world.

Camcording Theft

Camcording theft is one of the biggest problems facing the film industry. All it takes is one camcorded copy to trigger the mass reproduction and distribution of millions of illegal Internet downloads and bootlegs in global street markets.  Studios and cinema owners have significantly increased security and surveillance in cinemas all over the world to thwart would-be camcorders.  Some of the current measures to address camcording in the Asia-Pacific region are:

  • Investigating in Security and Technical Measures – In addition to the routine bag inspection, warning signs before the actual screening are posted prohibiting camcording, alerting audiences that they might be observed by guards using night-vision goggles or other methods. MPA member companies has also invested in Forensic Watermarking, which can pinpoint the exact time, date and location of a screening where the camcorded copy was made.
  • Legislation – The Philippines, along with other Asia Pacific countries like Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and Malaysia have specific laws that makes camcording illegal.
  • Public Education and Training – The MPA works closely with cinema staff and law enforcement agencies to prevent authorized recordings.

Illegal Public Performance

An unauthorized public performance occurs when an unlicensed or unauthorized performance is transmitted by means of any device or process to the public.

Unauthorized public performances include situations where an institution or commercial establishment shows a film to its members or customers without receiving permission from the copyright owner, regardless of how large or small the audiences may be, and regardless of whether the establishment may have lawfully rented or purchased the movie being shown.

Theatrical Print Theft

Theft of a film print (35 or 16 mm) or digital file from a theater, film depot, courier service or other industry-related facility for the purpose of making illegal copies is another serious form of copyright theft.  This type of theft enables the replication of high quality copies that then serve as a master for duplication and unauthorized distribution.

Broadcast Theft

Like signal theft, broadcast theft involves over-the-air broadcasts.  However, instead of stealing signals, the illegal act may be the unauthorized, on-air broadcasting of films or television programs without permission from the copyright holder.


Author’s Note: the above was condensed from Promotion & Protecting – The Screen  Community in Asia Pacific, this brochure was distributed as part of the PR kit at the World IP Day media briefing. See below for relevant links.

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