Georgia Negotiates With Internet Movie Pirates

Georgia had been in the headlines recently for its military confrontation with Russia. Before hostilities engulfed the country, however, it was celebrating 100 years of film-making. But, with no laws protecting the movie industry from piracy, how does Georgia cope with the Internet pirates?

Straddling both Eastern Europe and Southwestern Asia, Georgia hit world headlines recently for its conflict with South Ossetia and ultimately the Russian Federation. Rather than scenes of war dominating visual media, 2008 should have been a year of celebration for the Georgian movie industry. Before the hostilities it was marking 100 years of cinema in the country.

As Georgia struggles to return to some sort of normality, life goes on for businesses in the region, including the movie industry. However, the Georgian movie industry has to face some unique challenges. According to a report, along with other sites, two of the most popular Geogian movie download sites gol.ge and avoe.ge are able to operate freely. Unlike in the US, Europe and many other places around the world, there are no laws in place in Georgia to deal with unofficial movie sites.

This lack of legislation means that the movie industry has to deal with the issue in ways which differ from those of their US and European counterparts. In moves which will seem largely alien to most readers, the Georgian movie industry actually tries its best to keep on friendly terms with the unauthorized download sites in order to reach agreements with them.

Devi Gvaxaria, Manager of the Marketing Department at Cinema Rustaveli told The Financial that they deal with a unique situation in Georgia. “We are happy to have good relations with the main movie sites of Caucasus Online, who consider our request not to put films on the Internet at the same time as their first showings in the theatres,” he said, adding “But these are only some of them, there are different sites which are out of our control.”

Gvaxaria notes that most of the unofficial sites get their movies from other pirate sites internationally, but there is the language barrier, since most Georgians would prefer them in their native ‘Kartuli’. Of course, these technical limitations prove minor stumbling blocks for the resourceful.

“Several times hackers have rewritten the verbal part of a movie from our cinema,” says Gvaxaria. “They put a Dictaphone into their pockets before entering the film, which is impossible for us to stop. We can’t just check each and every person who enters our cinema.” Clearly Mr Gvaxaria hasn’t been to a big movie at a US theater recently.

Natia Meparishvili, PR and Marketing Manager of Cinema Amirani believes that the best protection against piracy is the tradition among the people of going to the cinema. However, it appears that negotiations with the unauthorized providers to keep brand-new movies off their sites for a while gives the theaters a little breathing room to make enough profit during the opening weeks.

Negotiating with pirates is something we have covered before, but it seems unlikely that US movie companies will follow this lead. Indeed, this interesting situation in Georgia will probably change too, as the article notes that the movie business is going to change “their friendly relations” with the unofficial sites and modify the discussion to be based around “the language of law”.

It sounds like Georgia is getting into a Western state of mind, in more ways than one.

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