FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 23, 2006
MAYOR BLOOMBERG AND MPAA ANNOUNCE NEW ENFORCEMENT INITIATIVES TO CRACK DOWN ON FILM PIRACY
City to Use Nuisance Abatement Laws to Shut Down Piracy Operations, Introduce Legislation to Penalize Illegal Recording of Copyrighted Work, And Create Public Service Campaign to Educate Public on Effects of Piracy
Mayor Also Names Whoopi Goldberg, City Officials, Labor Leaders and Industry Executives To Task Force Intended to Increase Diversity in New York’s Entertainment Industry
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Commissioner Katherine Oliver of the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre, and Broadcasting (MOFTB ), and Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) Dan Glickman today announced that New York City will lead the fight against film piracy in the City with a series of innovative initiatives. The City will introduce legislation in the State Legislature to criminalize the illegal recording of copyrighted works and will coordinate with the MPAA to use nuisance abatement laws to shut down piracy operations in buildings across the City. Additionally, the City and MPAA will create a public service campaign to educate the public about piracy, which the MPAA estimates cost major U.S. studios $6 billion in 2005. Mayor Bloomberg also joined with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and actor Whoopi Goldberg to announce members of the Task Force on Diversity in Film, Television, and Commercial Production, which will deliver recommendations on how to increase diversity among the City’s entertainment production workforce. The announcements were made following a summit that brought leaders of New York City’s entertainment industry to City Hall to discuss the City’s success in attracting film and television productions and the future of the industry in New York. The Mayor was joined at the announcement by Criminal Justice Coordinator John Feinblatt and City Council Members David Yassky and Letitia James.
“Last year, New York City posted 31,570 film, television and commercial location shooting days, our highest number on record,” said Commissioner Oliver. “The extraordinary results we have achieved in attracting jobs and revenue to the City are the result of following through on requests and recommendations made in our last entertainment summit. Through these piracy and diversity initiatives, we will ensure that our local production industry remains strong.”
The MPAA and NYPD, which already work closely to fight film piracy, will now employ a new tool to combat piracy. Similar in design to the City’s Trademark Counterfeiting Initiative, the MPAA, NYPD, and Office of Special Enforcement (OSE) will work together to identify buildings in New York City where suspected DVD piracy operations are located. Once those buildings are identified, the City will begin legal actions against landlords or owners who knowingly allow piracy operations to remain on their premises. The City’s legal actions – which could lead to substantial fines or the closure of the locations where piracy is occurring – will help to stop piracy by sending a clear message to landlords and owners that they will be held accountable for allowing their tenants to break the law.
“The New York City Police Department has the nation’s only police unit devoted exclusively to trademark infringements like those experienced by the motion picture industry,” said Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly.
“Just as the City has pioneered new ways of combating counterfeiting, we will tackle the growing problem of film piracy by hitting pirates where they operate,” said Coordinator Feinblatt. “Pirates sap $6 billion a year from the entertainment industry, and with this novel enforcement tactic, we will help protect the City and the entertainment industry.”
The City will also introduce legislation in the State Legislature to make it a crime for those caught making illegal recordings of copyrighted work. Illegal movie theater recording is the raw material that gets duplicated into thousands of pirated DVDs that are then sold on the streets and on the Internet. The MPAA estimates that New York City theaters are the origin of 43% of camcorder-source pirated DVDs tracked in the United States, and 20% of pirated movies seized globally. These video are posted on the Internet, replicated, and illegally sold and traded all over the world. Despite the impact that this conduct has on the film industry, those who are caught illegally recording a motion picture currently face only a violation, a non-criminal offense. The City intends to introduce legislation to amend the penal law so that those engaged in piracy will face a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison, if convicted, and a class E felony, punishable by up to four years in prison, for any subsequent convictions.
Additionally, the City will work with the MPAA to create and implement a public service campaign to educate New York consumers about piracy. The campaign, which will include print, radio, television, and Internet public service announcements, will be financed by the MPAA in consultation with the City. It will stress that piracy is not a victimless crime, and that it deprives the City of jobs and revenue generated by the growing film industry. As part of public education on the issue, the City will also launch an educational campaign for the City’s legal community.
City to Increase Diversity in Entertainment Workforce
“New York’s unemployment rate is now lower than the national average for the first time in nearly 20 years, but we will never stop our efforts to make sure the doors to employment are open to any New Yorker,” said Deputy Mayor Doctoroff. “Having worked with a wide range of partners to grow the entertainment industry in our City, we look forward to working with this task force to ensure that all New Yorkers are able to take part in the industry’s success.”
“New York City is home to one of the most diverse populations in the world,” said Deputy Mayor Walcott. “By expanding job opportunities to a broad group of New Yorkers in this industry, we are creating a model which we hope will expand throughout the entire entertainment industry.”
“The film industry provides hundreds of thousands of jobs and generates billions of dollars in revenue for the City,” said Speaker Quinn. “We have to make sure the industry reflects the diversity of this City and that there is diversity behind the camera as well as on camera. I want to thank Council Members Leticia James and David Yassky for their work to increase the numbers of minorities and women working in the film industry. I’d also like to thank the administration and industry leaders for working with us to form the Task Force on Diversity in Film, Television, and Commercial Production.”
At the Mayor’s first entertainment summit in October 2003, the industry identified the need for improved customer service, a tax credit and expanded soundstages in order to bring more business to New York City. As a result, MOFTB created and launched the “Made in NY” incentive program, which includes a tax credit that last year brought $1.5 billion in new business to the City, and jobs for 10,000 New Yorkers. Supporting the entertainment industry – which employs 100,000 New Yorkers and contributes $5 billion to our local economy annually – is a key component of the Administration’s five-borough economic development strategy for the City.
This year, MOFTB – which was the first agency of its kind when founded in 1966 – is celebrating its 40th anniversary with the publication of “Scenes from the City: Filmmaking in New York, 1966-2006,” a picture book published by Rizzoli and edited by James Sanders. The book looks back on the rich history of film, television and commercial production in New York City. The Department of Education’s Office of Arts and Special Projects has partnered with the MOFTB to create a mini-curriculum in support of the study of film in public schools. Complete information on these events and initiatives are available on the Anniversary section on the agency’s website, nyc.gov/film. The section was created pro bono by iDeutsch, a division of Deutsch Inc.
Stu Loeser / Matthew Kelly (212) 788-2958
Kara Alaimo (Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre, and Broadcasting)
(212) 489-6710 x247
Kori Bernards (MPAA) (818) 461-1540
Gayle Osterberg (MPAA) (202) 293-1966
Maria Alvarado (Council) (212) 788-7117
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