The movie industry sees movies that are illegally recorded in theaters as one of the biggest piracy threats worldwide.
To combat this, audio and video watermarking tools are used to detect pirates and their favorite locations. In addition, night-vision goggles and other spy tech are employed to monitor moviegoers during high profile film premieres.
Despite these efforts, so-called ‘cam’ releases of hundreds of films still end up on pirate sites.
In fact, the majority of all new pirated movies that appear online can be traced to a digital recording in a movie theater. This can be the movie itself, the audio, or both. The good news for the movie industry is that the total number seems to be dropping somewhat.
According to statistics gathered by the MPAA, 447 illegal recording of its members’ movies were detected in 2017. This is down 11% compared to the year before when 503 titles were recorded. This suggests that enforcement actions and preventive measures are paying off. However, this is not visible everywhere.
This week Kevin Rosenbaum of the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA), which represents various industry groups including the MPAA, informed the US International Trade Commission that camcording piracy is on the rise in Russia.
In his oral testimony, Rosenbaum signaled three key copyright issues in Russia that deserve attention from the US Government.
“First is to dramatically improve enforcement against online piracy, particularly piracy sites and services directed to users outside of Russia,” Rosenbaum said.
In addition, the country also has to address the problem with the Russian collecting societies, to effectively handle music licensing. These currently lack transparency or good governance, IIPA noted.
The third issue that needs attention is camcording piracy. According to IIPA’s statement, there has been a dramatic increase in illegally recorded movies over the past several years.
“Russia must address the problem of camcording motion pictures, which has risen dramatically over the past three years (200% since 2015) and fuels online piracy,” Rosenbaum noted.
In 2015 the movie industry traced 26 camcorded copies to Russia and by last year this number had increased to 78. These releases are linked to movie theaters around the country, from Moscow, Kazan, Tatarstan, St. Petersburg, all the way up to Siberia.
The Russian camcording piracy problem was also highlighted in IIPA’s recent Special 301 submission to the US Trade Representative.
“Russia remains the home to some of the world’s most prolific criminal release groups of motion pictures.” IIPA wrote last month. “The illicit camcords that are sourced from Russia are only of fair quality, but they remain in high demand by international criminal syndicates.”
With help from the Russian-Anti Piracy Organization over a dozen cammers were caught last year. In addition, four criminal cases were launched.
IIPA hopes that these will result in convictions, to create a deterrent effect. In addition, the group highlights that Russia could strengthen its laws, perhaps with a little push from the US.
A copy of Kevin Rosenbaum’s statement before the United States International Trade Commission is available here (pdf). In addition to Russia, it also highlights issues in other countries.