MPA’s Zoomout operation trains sight on illegal camcording in cinemas

Mumbai: The Motion Picture Association (MPA) has launched Operation ZoomOut – an anti-piracy enforcement initiative with a focus on illegal camcording of newly released movie titles in cinemas – scheduled to run through until 31 January, 2009, in 13 countries and territories across the Asia-Pacific region.

Operation ZoomOut will be conducted in India, Australia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand. It will focus on the prevention of illegal camcording of newly released titles in cinemas.

More than 90 per cent of newly released movies that illegally end up on the Internet and in street markets around the world originate from illegal recordings being made in cinemas. These recordings often appear online within hours or days of a movie premiere, triggering an avalanche of illegal downloads that can significantly impact a film’s performance at the box office and throughout its distribution cycle.

With day and date releases of major studio titles becoming more prevalent, and worldwide premieres in Asia-Pacific becoming more commonplace, the number of illegal recordings in the region has risen exponentially. This year so far there have been 96 illegal unauthorized recordings forensically matched to theaters in the Asia-Pacific. This represents a 405 per cent increase over the same period in 2007, when there were 19.

To coincide with the launch of Operation ZoomOut, MPA will also release an updated version of its Make A Difference training package for cinema staff to help them prevent camcording, identify camcorders as well as assist police when they are caught making illegal recordings. Make A Difference 2, which provides anti-camcording guidelines and a DVD on how to prevent illegal recordings, will be distributed to all cinemas across the region in the coming weeks.

This awareness initiative is part of the ‘Make A Difference’ campaign (, in which the MPA works with theater exhibitors to train employees and to implement anti-camcording security measures that ensure that movies are protected, and not stolen, during premieres and screenings.

Twice yearly, the MPA and its partners step up their anti-piracy activities to coincide with the blockbuster release schedule. Operation ZoomOut is the first time these operations will focus solely on preventing illegal recordings from occurring in cinemas in the region.

"Illegal recordings in cinemas go to the very heart of the piracy ecosystem, the theft of movies in cinemas. We at the MPA take it seriously; around the world, movie theft has an estimated annual price tag of $6 billion, all lost in order to enrich criminals who never lifted a finger, except to push a record button," said Mike Ellis, President and Managing Director, Asia-Pacific for the Motion Picture Association.

"While we are working closely with our partners in governments to put anti-camcording legislation or deterrent penalties in place, and theater owners in many countries especially with regard to in-theatre camcording, there still remains a lot to be done so that all countries in Asia are on the same level of legislation as the US, Japan and Hong Kong," he added.

Over the past four years, eight semi-annual anti-piracy sweeps conducted by the MPA have collectively resulted in more than 5,400 arrests and more than 39.5 million optical discs seized.