Hong Kong's film, TV and music industries have jointlycalled on the government to address the growing problem of online piracy whichthey say is "threatening the very survival" of the territory's content supplyindustries.

Thecall was made at a symposium held by the Film, Television and RecordingIndustries' Copyright Concern Group on Sunday (Jan 23) and attended by topindustry figures including producer Nansun Shi, Media Asia executive directorJohn Chong and TVB general manager Stephen Chan.

Among topics discussed were the urgent need for newlegislation and public education campaigns.

"The content creators and owners are helpless without thecopyright law being strengthened to deal with infringement in the digitalenvironment," said Chan.

Hong Kong is one of the most successful nations in Asia atfighting disc piracy - the piracy rate dropped from 60% in 1998 to 20% in 2003- but the territory has a high rate of broadband penetration and peer-to-peerfilesharing is exploding. The MPA's MediaSentry search engine - which onlylooks for titles produced by MPA member companies - detected 2,770 cases of P2Ppiracy in Hong Kong in 2004 compared to just 107 the previous year.

"Clearly the problem of free downloading of movies hasbecome extremely serious," said Chong.

The MPA also detected that within a 10-second period lastDecember, 153 people were downloading Sony's Chinese-language Kung-fu Hustle.More than half of these were in China.

Despite the industry's concerns, speakers at the symposiumalso managed to look on the bright side and discussed how online distributioncould be turned to their advantage.

In his opening address, John Tsang, Secretary for Commerce,Industry and Technology - the department that drafted the consultation paper -urged the industry to adopt new sales models."New technology can be converted into business opportunities," Tsangsaid.

The Copyright Concern Group was set up by leading companiesand industry organisations - including the Motion Picture Association (MPA) -in response to a government consultation paper that proposes changes to HongKong's Copyright Ordinance but fails to mention online piracy. The group plansto make a submission to the government before the end of the consultationperiod next month.