MPA Asia Pacific anti-piracy ops stems rise of illegal camcording

MUMBAI: Operation ZoomOut, which was launched by the Motion Picture Association (MPA) focusing on the illegal camcording of movie releases timed for the holiday season, successfully concluded at the end of January 2009. The average number of camcords sourced out of the region per week dropped from 2.4 to 1.4 during the period of this Asia-wide enforcement operation launched on 24 November, 2008.

As part of Operation ZoomOut, the MPA launched its follow-up training program ‘Make A Difference 2’ (MAD 2) for cinema staff and enforcement officers. The anti-camcording training video was first screened to motion picture exhibitors and distributors at the CineAsia 2008, an annual movie industry convention and trade show held in December, 2008 in Macau. Over 360 participants received a copy of the ‘MAD 2’ DVD and training package at the convention.

Focus was placed on implementing deterrent measures such as the deployment of enforcement officers to patrol cinemas, the use of night vision goggles to detect anyone using a recording device, the establishment of anti-camcording reward schemes that seek the assistance of movie goers as well as the display and distribution of posters in cinemas highlighting that camcording is a criminal offence.

As a result, only 14 camcords were sourced from the region and six people were arrested during the ten week operation. Prior to the operation, there were 113 camcords coming out of Asia Pacific since the beginning of 2008.

Operation ZoomOut also saw the arrest of 370 suspected pirates, as well as seizures of more than four million pirated optical discs and 767 optical disc burners, capable of producing hundreds of thousands of pirated movies a year and potentially millions in illicit revenue.

Nearly 450 raids were undertaken by enforcement authorities in 12 countries across the Asia-Pacific. Among the highlights of Operation ZoomOut were:

China: 74 pirate retail outlets shut down
Hong Kong: 2,034,800 pirated optical discs seized
Philippines: 1,301,300 pirated optical discs seized
Taiwan: 166 raids conducted; 135 people arrested
Thailand: 102 raids conducted; 100 people arrested; 500 burners seized

"All these measures have served to deter criminals from engaging in illegal camcording. The efforts made on the part of exhibitors across the region must also remain and be reinforced constantly for these measures to have a significant impact. However, the key is the continuation of the close operation we have with Governments around the region in reaching out to people about the gravity of its consequences. We will require their further support in enacting anti-camcording legislation and imposing deterrent penalties in their countries. This will go a long way to ensure that this criminal activity is rooted out," said Asia-Pacific for the Motion Picture Association president and managing director Mike Ellis.

In the past four years, MPA has conducted nine bi-annual operations resulting in over 5,900 arrests and 44 million pirated optical discs seized.

Operation ZoomOut operations were conducted in Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.

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