Independent Chinese distributor Infotainment has won a landmark legal case against a local website, Funshion, for pirating helmer-scribe Massy Tadjedin’s “Last Night,” starring Keira Knightley and Sam Worthington, which the distrib hopes will help improve the reputation of Chinese shingles seeking to buy the rights of Hollywood movies.
However, the Beijing court awarded Infotainment just 35,000 yuan ($5,600), a drop in the ocean compared to the amount in lost revenues from pirate downloads, said topper Cindy Lin.
“Last Night” made $1.7 million at the box office from 1,000 prints in China. Lin reckoned the B.O. would have been about 30% higher if the pirate sites had not been showing the pic for six months before its release.
“I am very glad we won the battle, even though the award won’t cover our legal fees,” Lin said. “Winning this round shows other IP owners you can win.”
The average court awards are around $3,100, but for Lin it is not the cost, it is the principle.
“From April to October last year we’ve been fighting 300 websites for piracy. It’s almost mission impossible, but we’ve chosen to fight and not to give in,” said Lin, whose company is also suing PPTV in Shanghai.
Lin said China’s reputation for piracy means, as a buyer, she has encountered a lot of mistrust at markets and she generally tries for day-and-date releases to get around piracy.
“Some companies are worried we will leak the movie to the pirates and damage their opening revenues in the U.S. and other markets. It’s frustrating for us but understandable. If we keep fighting the pirates, we will at least gain sellers’ trust,” she said.