Martin Blaney looks at how the German film industry is effected by piracy.
Cinema admissions in Germany would increase by 13% if film piracy could be stopped outright, according to a study by researchers at the universities of Hamburg and Weimar. The report suggests the German film industry is losing an annual $300m in revenues to piracy.
According to the German Federation Against Copyright Theft (GVU), illegal downloading of films and games rose by almost 50% in 2008 over the previous year.
Most anti-piracy campaigns focus on informing consumers that piracy is illegal. And they seem to be yielding some results, albeit minor: 52% of the films released in German cinemas in the first half of 2008 were available for illegal download, compared with 54% a year earlier. Moreover, illegal copies of films appeared in peer-to-peer networks an average 1.9 days after the German theatrical release last year, compared to 1.3 days in 2007.
Inspired by the French government’s introduction of legislation to protect creative content online, the German industry is calling on its government to consider something similar.
“A range of measures is conceivable, from slowing down the speed of uploading and downloading, to blocking individual sites.”
Matthias Leonardy, CEO, GVU
“Where awareness-building no longer works, appropriate criminal and civil proceedings are a proven means against serial offenders,” says Matthias Leonardy, the CEO of GVU. “And where technological sanctions are deemed to be appropriate, a range of measures is conceivable, from slowing down the speed of uploading and downloading, to blocking individual sites.”
While a quarter of more than 1,200 criminal and civil proceedings in Germany last year led to penalty orders, fines or imprisonment, the industry believes the battle against piracy is hindered by the low priority given to the problem by the prosecuting authorities, due to lack of resources.
For example, in 2008, two men were caught in the act using a video camera to film the James Bond film Quantum Of Solace at a screening in Dresden’s Rundkino. The public prosecutor’s office closed the case the same weekend with each man receiving a $140 (¤100) fine, on the basis they were first-time offenders and the recording quality was so poor.
The GVU’s response has been to print flyers outlining the seriousness of the problem for cinemas to distribute to police officers called by exhibitors to apprehend pirates in the act.