L.A. officials team to fight piracy

Representatives unveil new task force

The entertainment industry and L.A. city and county officials are regrouping to fight piracy.

Reps from several studios and labels, along with L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other government officials, gathered outside Staples Center Friday morning to unveil a new study and announce a new task force focused on piracy.

Surrounded by counterfeit copies of “Rocky Balboa” and “Norbit,” as well as bootleg CDs, purses, shoes and watches, Villaraigosa underscored the findings of the new study by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp.: L.A. County businesses lost $5.2 billion in 2005 from piracy, with motion pictures accounting for $2.7 billion and music for $851 million.

Study used prior data released by the Motion Picture Assn. of America and other trade groups and estimated the specific impact on Los Angeles.

Villaraigosa and other officials decried the impact of piracy on employment, noting that the study found that piracy cost the L.A. County economy 106,000 legitimate jobs, both directly and indirectly, in 2005.

Press conferences touting efforts to crack down on piracy are regularly held by local and federal officials in L.A.

But those behind the latest effort say that by focusing a new study on L.A. and implementing a task force to immediately act on its results, they hope they can get government to take more effective action.

“We have had efforts before, but they weren’t consistent and coordinated,” L.A. City Council member Wendy Gruel, a former DreamWorks exec who helped spearhead the study and will chair the task force, told Daily Variety in an interview after the press conference.

Other members of the task force will include Villaraigosa, Council member Jan Perry, County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the L.A.P.D. and L.A. County Sheriff’s Dept., Recording Industry Assn. of America and MPAA and the Hollywood guilds.

In addition, the Southern California High Tech Crimes Task Force, a joint effort between local and federal law enforcement officials to fight high-tech crime, including piracy, will take part.

Gruel said that she hopes recommendations will include tougher penalties for piracy and more educational efforts.

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