Piracy Continues to Agonize Movie Industry

The movie industry faces many challenges to its bottom line. One of the biggest and most difficult to address is piracy. In 2008, Congress enacted the “Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2008” (the “Act”). The Act provides for the President to appoint an Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (referred to as the “IP Czar”) to supervise the cross-governmental agency effort to stem the tide of piracy.

The real, economic impact of piracy is currently being felt by Lionsgate, the studio that distributes The Expendables franchise. The latest episode of this franchise, “The Expendables 3,” is a highly anticipated summer release (the first 2 installments have grossed almost $600,000,000 worldwide). Lionsgate discovered the theft of a single digital copy last Friday, and according to Variety reports, more than 2 million downloads have occurred to date. These downloads equate to damages in the tens of millions of dollars. Lionsgate has responded by filing suit against 10 anonymous individuals seeking recovery of the monetary damages caused, allegedly, by such individuals sharing copies of the stolen digital copy and further seeks to block the operators of several cloud-storage and torrent sharing websites from linking to or distributing the illegally procured copy of the action film.

While Lionsgate is availing itself of the only recourse it has available under law, it begs the question of whether Lionsgate will be able to actually collect an amount from these individuals that comes close to the actual loss it suffered as a result of the copyright infringement. More needs to be done on the preventative side at the federal level to stop the infringement before it occurs.