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Preventing Piracy: Rallying the Troops under CreativeFuture

Preventing Piracy: Rallying the Troops under CreativeFuture

Movie News

Anti-piracy advocates band together under CreativeFuture, a site that mobilizes against illegal for-profit media platforms and promotes legitimate online distribution.

Launched in February 2014 to encourage creative industry professionals to speak out about the negatives of content piracy, CreativeFuture is a loose coalition of film and television companies, independent production and financing companies, unions, guilds, talent agencies, filmmakers, artists, and other individuals. American Cinematheque, Magnolia Pictures, and Roadside Attractions are some of the 150 members.

“The creative community is uniting,” said Executive Director Ruth Vitale, former president of Vestron, Fine Line Features and Paramount Classics, in a press release. “For too long, many of us—even those who have been concerned about the issue—have sat on the sidelines and allowed the conversation to be driven by people who don’t understand the mutual interests that creatives, audiences, and everyone in the Internet ecosystem have in finding solutions to piracy.”

CreativeFuture has not identified any specific legal or technical measures to combat content piracy, but lists its core values on its website. These include speaking out against illegal downloading activity by appealing to audiences’ morality and removing the profit motive that pirates enjoy.

Ruth Vitale in Cannes' 2014 panel "From Cat Videos to Tent Poles: What is the Future of Digital Entertainment?"

Ruth Vitale in Cannes’ 2014 panel “From Cat Videos to Tent Poles: What is the Future of Digital Entertainment?”

“Pirate site operators make money in two ways,” says Vitale. “One is through advertising revenue, often from well-known U.S. companies that may or may not know their ads end up on these sites. The other is by selling ‘premium access’ subscriptions that offer more or faster access to content. Major credit card companies process these subscription payments. There’s no good reason for any responsible companies to do business with pirate sites—there are now technical tools available to help advertisers, ad networks, and credit card companies identify illegal sites.”

The film and television industries have long lacked a unified voice against piracy. In June of 2013, HBO’s official blog stated that the 4.28 million downloaded episodes of Game of Thrones didn’t pose much of a threat to company profits and, in fact, served to “generate further momentum” for the show. A year later, one single digital copy of Game of Thrones’ Season 4 premiere was shared a record-breaking 193,418 times, despite HBO’s best efforts to make their content more affordable through their HBO GO platform. “Part of CreativeFuture’s mission,” says Vitale, “is to start a conversation with youth about the value of creativity and all the time, energy, and investment that goes into the creative process.”

Today’s conversation tends away from stamping out piracy, and toward trying to determine the acceptable level of piracy that the industry can tolerate. CreativeFuture’s stance, however, is that all piracy hurts the industry. Pirates spread material for profit, but even if laws and technological innovation make it impossible to profit from sharing content illegally, people are still going to disseminate content for political or otherwise non-profitable reasons. Whether good, old-fashioned moral sensibility will win out remains to be seen. MM

Photographs courtesy of creativefuture.org.

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