At a press conference Monday morning in Gotham, New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo held up a pirated “Iron Man” DVD to introduce legislation for harsher penalties with the Piracy Protection Act.
“The movie ‘Iron Man’ came out, on Friday. This is already a bootleg stolen copy of ‘Iron Man.’ It was in the theaters this weekend, it’s already been stolen, and it’s already being distributed,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo was joined by NBC U prexy-CEO Jeff Zucker, several industry members, state senators and “Baby Mama” thesp and Gothamite Tina Fey.
Recent industry findings show that 50% of illegally recorded movies are filmed in New York cinemas, yet the state has some of the weakest penalties.
Just two weeks ago, a Kansas man was charged with unlawfully copying DVDs and faces up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 if convicted. But in New York, a vendor caught selling illegal DVDs on the corner, via the Internet or a warehouse faces a fine of up to $250 and up to 15 days in jail. There’s nothing on the books that covers repeat offenders.
The bill Cuomo proposed bumps the infraction up from a violation to a misdemeanor — first-time offenders would face up to one year in jail and a fine of $1,000. Repeat offenders would be charged with a felony, which carries stiffer penalties.
“Iron Man” banked $102.1 million in its first weekend domestically. The DVD Cuomo held in hand was from a bust of a Queens warehouse that netted 60,000 pirated copies of “Iron Man.” Typical resale price according to the Attorney General’s office is $5-$7.
A 2006 report by the Institute for Policy Innovation found that movie piracy results in $5.5 billion lost annually in workers’ earnings, the cost of piracy prevents the creation of upward of 140,000 jobs, and more than $800 million in uncollected tax revenues for the local and national governments.
“The wide distribution of pirated films originating from New York costs our state vital economic resources, including thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenue.” Cuomo said. “We are all paying a price for the leniency given to this type of organized crime, and I will not let it continue on my watch.”
Piracy does not have particularly challenging obstacles; it’s basically, point, shoot, copy, sell.
“About 90% of piracy, both street piracy and Internet piracy, begins with the camcorder,” said MPAA prexy and chair Dan Glickman.
Along with stiffer sentences, Cuomo also announced plans to appoint a special assistant attorney general to coordinate local and state anti-piracy efforts to nab the wider criminal networks operating across county and state lines. The promotion will come from within, the AG’s office says.
“Remember: When you buy a DVD, you should not be able to see the heads of people watching it in a movie theater at the bottom of the screen,” Fey said.