Working with the IPEC and the Online Community on Voluntary Initiatives and Promoting Creativity

October 19, 2015

The U.S. Government is in the process of developing its third Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement for the next three years.  As an industry that relies on copyright to create and distribute movies and TV shows around the world, we believe this exercise is very important and thank Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC) Daniel Marti for leading this effort.

In our filing, we first point out that the current legal framework for copyright under U.S. law is promoting creation and dissemination of creative works. As the Internet becomes more involved in every aspect of our lives, this fact is underscored by today’s vibrant and growing online marketplace for viewing movies and TV shows. By the end of 2014, Americans had access to 112 legitimate online services for watching content, and used them to access 66.6 billion television episodes and 7.1 billion movies in that year, alone. This marketplace will continue to grow in size and importance, reaching 101.6 billion and 11.7 billion TV shows and movies accessed annually, respectively, by 2019. In recognition of this increasingly digital landscape, the MPAA created an online search tool called WhereToWatch.com to help consumers find easy access to the movies and TV shows they want to watch.

Key to this vibrant online marketplace is the fundamental principle of U.S. copyright law that creators have the exclusive right to determine how their content is disseminated. Illegitimate websites profiting off of stolen content undermine this core tenet of today’s growing digital environment, while also harming legal commerce and undermining good U.S. jobs. To get a better understanding of the size and scope of this problem, take for example that 24% of total Internet bandwidth is devoted to pirated content, cyberlocker operators offering stolen content make an estimated $100 million in annual revenue, and that more than 86 percent of peer-to-peer network traffic is unauthorized dissemination of copyrighted content. The pervasive nature of content theft harms creators, consumers, and the entire online ecosystem.

Because of the Internet’s distributed nature and structure, we believe that the best way to tackle online piracy is by forging cross-industry collaboration. This means working across industry lines—from creators and advertisers to payment processors and search engines—so that Internet intermediaries do not facilitate piracy or the complex criminal operations that profit unlawfully from the hard work of others. We still have much work to do in this area, but since the last Joint Strategic Plan there’s been varying degrees of progress with ISPs, payment processors, and ad networks. Encouraging industry players to work together has been one of the IPEC’s most valuable contributions to combating online copyright theft, and we think it’s vital that those efforts continue.

We also ask that the IPEC address three areas that have shown a lack of progress: the use of domain names for unlawful conduct; the prevalence of piracy websites on the first pages of search results; and the use of data storage services to host websites trafficking in stolen content.

But while we are hopeful that we can find responsible partners in the online community to work with, the fact remains that it’s also necessary to meet wrongdoing from criminal actors with appropriate legal enforcement. To this end, it’s important that the Joint Strategic Plan ensures that the highly significant resources and expertise of the federal government are deployed efficiently against the criminal operations that continue to steal U.S. intellectual property.

We look forward to continuing our work with the IPEC and all members of the online ecosystem to find solutions that tackle content theft and help the Internet continue to develop as a healthy, trustworthy, and safe venue for communication, content, and commerce.