Taskforce to tackle £400 million film piracy racket

Representatives from across the UK film industry are joining together in a new anti-piracy taskforce to tackle the scourge of illegal film copying and distribution - which is estimated to have cost the UK industry £400 million last year alone, the UK Film Council announced today.

According to research by FACT (the Federation on Copyright Theft), which monitors and acts upon illegal activity across a variety industries including film, music, and computer games, film piracy in the UK increased by a staggering 83% last year, costing the industry an estimated £400 million last year.

The taskforce will aim to map out the nature and extent of the problem, and identify possible solutions for the UK film industry and Government, including toughening up current laws covering the area.

FACT figures on the numbers of pirate DVDs being seized have been used to highlight the scale of the problem: 2002 saw a 100% increase in the seizure rate of pirate DVDs compared to the previous year, with 659,000 illegal film copies - with a potential value of £10 million - being recovered. On 2 May 2003, a search in Hornsey in North London netted 100,000 DVDs, worth an estimated £1,425,000, along with computer equipment, artwork, and DVD labels. The products have been traced to the Far East; in June 2003 100,000 DVDs and 300,000 items of accompanying artwork were seized after a search of a house in Waltham Abbey in Essex.

The new taskforce, which will be chaired by UK Film Council board member Nigel Green, includes representatives of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, UK film producers, distributors, exhibitors, visual effects companies and major US studios, film sales agents, as well as actors’ union Equity.

Announcing the formation of the taskforce, Mr Green said: “More than 50,000 people work in the UK’s film and video sector, and piracy is a direct attack on their jobs and our economy generally, inhibiting the growth of our own industry.

“The film business is an international industry and film piracy is a global problem. Acting at a UK level this taskforce will complement and support efforts being made to tackle this scourge across the world.”

UK Film Council Chief Executive Officer John Woodward said: “Illegal film copying and distribution threatens both jobs and future film production in the UK. People need to remember that when they buy a pirate DVD or video they are not only likely to end up wasting their money on a poor quality product they are often putting money straight into the hands of organised criminals."


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