Kiwis team up on piracy

'Wedding' pirated from unfinished post-prod'n version

AUCKLAND — The Kiwi film distribution and record industry are partnering up to reduce piracy.

The move, along with a promised education drive, follows pirating of “Sione’s Wedding,” the latest local hit from South Pacific Pictures.

The local outpost of the Motion Picture Assn. and the Recording Industry Assn. of New Zealand signed a memorandum last month to work together against copyright theft.

“It makes sense to compare notes,” said Kevin Holland, exec director of studios-funded body the Federation Against Copyright Theft.

The federation estimates Kiwi theater and video distribs lost around 12% of potential revenue last year, compared to 8% in 2004. For theaters alone, that could amount to as much as NZ$17.4 ($11 million) for last year.

Holland said that two years ago, the vast majority of pirated movies were imported, typically from Asia.

But with disc-burning technology growing more efficient, piracy now stems mostly from camcorders taken to Kiwi cinemas.

In what is believed to be a local first, “Sione’s Wedding” was pirated from an unfinished version in post-production; copies were in circulation before the movie was released.

After three weeks in release, producers South Pacific Pictures believe piracy siphoned at least $300,000 from the potential box office.

Pirated copies have also been found of another local movie, Vincent Ward’s “River Queen,” with charges laid by police for both pics.

Meanwhile, the local recording industry estimates that piracy takes 5% of sales revenue, and the industry is mounting its own antipiracy campaign. The recording industry association recently appointed an exec to focus on piracy and work in tandem with the film biz.

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