Piracy pulls coins from script stage, secy sez

Josette Sheeran Shiner, the U.S. Undersecretary for Economic, Business and Agricultural Affairs, says piracy is taking a toll on films at the beginning of their lives, not just after they hit theaters.

Shiner — at the AFM this week for a closed-door meeting with the Independent Film & Television Alliance board to discuss issues concerning intellectual property — says piracy dictates how much dough producers can procure from certain territories that calculate counterfeiting into a completed film’s bottom line.

“Even at script stage — when companies are going to get financing — piracy and counterfeiting have an effect on how much one can get for distribution,” Shiner told Variety on Saturday. “It shows just how global this industry is.”

Shiner, who spearheads the Bush administration’s economic diplomacy efforts to advance interests of U.S. businesses, pointed out that while Hollywood is particularly vulnerable to piracy, it’s just one of a vast number of American businesses that is taking a hit, a point she would discuss with IFTA’s membership.

“Every country on Earth has a stake in making sure copyrights are protected,” Shiner said. “Whether it’s South African music or Nigerian Kinta cloth.”

She added, “With intellectual property it’s very often Hollywood vs. the world. And it’s true that Hollywood has a huge stake. But (piracy) affects virtually every industry from auto brakes to motor scooters to our films and music. This helps people understand that this affects a range of the economy.”

Shiner was skedded to meet with the IFTA board this morning.

Trade org routinely invites federal policy makers to AFM to address its membership privately. Past guests have included FCC commissioner Michael Copps.

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