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The future of online movie piracy is grim, experts warn

pirateflagLast year, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN for short) announced that it is accepting applications for new domains – like .christmas and .kittens – to accompany boring ol’ .com, .org, and .net. Along with the creative new domains, however, content owners feared these new rounds of domain tags would open up another world of websites encouraging piracy. Add in content sharing enabled by cloud storage, and the future of online piracy becomes that much more complicated.

A seminar at the Hong Kong International Film and TV Market convention titled “Promoting and Protecting the Screen Community in the Cloud Era” aimed to address these concerns… at least when it came to the movie and television industries. Still, experts who took part in the discussion seemed more concerned with doomsaying than offering suggestions about how to protect copyrighted content.

Edmon Chung, CEO of DotAsia Organization, a group dedicated to promoting commercial and cultural elements of Asia online, says the addition of new domain tags such as .movie – which both Google and Amazon have applied to ICANN for the creation of – almost definitely translates into the likelihood for a new rush of pirate sites for these audience-friendly URLs. “Google currently has no plans to disqualify P2P websites from using .movie domain names,” Chung told the audience present during the panel.

The news was even worse from Frank Rittman, SVP of the Motion Picture Association, Asia Pacific, who stated that potential pirates have all the digital tools they need to make illegal media sharing more viral than ever. “Digital online technology has enabled new channels of delivery for entertainment media,” he said. “The cloud also represents a threat in that it facilitates piracy, and the pirates seem to have gotten into this space first.”

The answer to both problems, Rittman believes, is pushing for Internet Service Providers to block sites known to be troublemakers when it comes to Internet piracy. He pointed to examples of the practice in Europe, Indonesia, Malaysia, and South Korea as models of how this has worked as a low-cost way of cutting down on piracy that has met with some success.

However, he suggested that Hong Kong may have already missed the boat for that particular defense. “The legislative process in Hong Kong was hijacked by extremists and the laws were blocked over a political issue that had nothing to do with piracy and IP rights,” he said. Take notes, USA, while you still have the time.

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