O’seas tricks of the trade

Industryites, pols pact for foreign shoots

WASHINGTON — Feel like taking a quick hop down to Chile to shoot a backdrop of the Andes?

A new coalition of studios, record labels, Hollywood unions and industry trade associations is working to make shooting foreign locales cheaper and easier as one small goal of a new strategy to influence international trade negotiations.

All the major studios and record labels, as well as the Screen Actors Guild, Writers Guild West, Producers and Directors Guilds, the Motion Picture Assn. of America and the Recording Industry Assn. of America are among the groups who formed the Entertainment Industry Coalition for Free Trade earlier this year.

Defying unions

Coalition celebrated its first victories last week when the House passed trade agreements with Chile and Singapore with the support of several traditionally pro-labor California and New York Democrats despite serious pressure from national unions to oppose the measures.

In fact, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) voted in favor of the trade pacts even after receiving a phone call from Teamsters topper James Hoffa, who vowed to cut off political support for all House Democrats if she and fellow Democratic leaders supported them.

If approved in the Senate, the free trade policies will provide a host of benefits for showbiz while serving as models for upcoming trade negotiations with Australia, Bahrain, Central America and Morocco.

Important precendent

The Singapore agreement, in particular, establishes several important precedents, among them:

  • Singapore will eliminate tariffs on all industrial imports, allowing movies, music, books and magazines to enter the country duty-free. That also means zero tariffs on all props and equipment, projectors, sound equipment — even popcorn.

  • It includes strong anti-piracy language, including prohibitions against circumventing digital encryption measures protecting copyrighted works such as DVDs and CDs online.

  • It ensures that copyright owners have the exclusive right to make their works available online.

  • Copyrighted material is protected for extended terms.

  • Singapore’s government guarantees that it has the power to seize and destroy pirated goods and the equipment used to produce them.

“Intellectual property is a major contributor to the U.S. economy, and expanding our foreign markets with increased intellectual property standards will foster the economic growth of our nation,” MPAA prexy Jack Valenti said in a statement.

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