Piracy makes strange bedfellows: A group of 30 entertainment companies — including Netflix, Disney, Amazon, CBS, NBCUniversal and Warner Bros. — have formed a new worldwide coalition aimed at fighting piracy.
The mission of the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment is to reduce the prevalence of online piracy, and the companies said ACE will draw on the anti-piracy resources of the MPAA. Specifically, the group plans to conduct research, work with law enforcement to curtail illegal pirate enterprises and “pursue voluntary agreements with responsible parties across the internet ecosystem” (such as search engines like Google and broadband service providers).
They’re also expecting to sue piracy enterprises: The members of the new coalition said they plan to file civil litigation in their fight against copyright infringement.
ACE, which has launched a website at alliance4creativity.com, brings together a diverse group of companies — many of which compete with each other. The members are: Amazon, AMC Networks, BBC Worldwide, Bell Canada and Bell Media, Canal+ Group, CBS, Constantin Film, Foxtel, Grupo Globo, HBO, Hulu, Lionsgate, MGM, Millennium Media, NBCUniversal, Netflix, Paramount Pictures, SF Studios, Sky, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Star India, Studio Babelsberg, STX Entertainment, Telemundo, Televisa, Twentieth Century Fox, Univision Communications, Village Roadshow, the Walt Disney Company and Warner Bros. Entertainment.
The coalition is significant for the MPAA and major studios, as it may be a more efficient way to monitor online piracy and end duplication of efforts by non-member companies. While it falls short of ideas that have been floated at the MPAA in recent years — like adding new members — it marks a new level of coordination among multiple stakeholders. It’s unclear how much ACE will reduce costs for content protection among the member companies.
Piracy has been a massive, intractable problem for content industries — and hasn’t shown any signs of abating. In 2016, internet users worldwide made 107.9 billion to streaming piracy sites, according to anti-piracy technology vendor Muso. In addition, the firm estimates that there were 34.2 billion visits to public and private torrent-based download services.
That’s even as Hollywood studios and others have greatly expanded digital distribution of entertainment content. According to the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment, currently there are more than 480 online services worldwide available for consumers to watch movies and TV programs legally on demand.
“ACE will help protect the viability of the creative community and ensure audiences continue to enjoy the high-quality content they have come to expect,” Alan Braverman, Disney’s senior executive VP and general counsel, said in a statement. “It enhances our collective efforts to fight online piracy by disrupting the criminal enterprises that profit from the theft of copyrighted content, while promoting the legal market for that content.”
Netflix is focused on “providing a great consumer experience that ultimately discourages piracy,” according to Netflix general counsel David Hyman. However, he added, “there are still bad players around the world trying to profit off the hard work of others. By joining ACE, we will work together, share knowledge, and leverage the group’s combined anti-piracy resources to address the global online piracy problem.”
In the U.S. alone, the creative sector adds over $1.2 trillion to the economy and supports more than 5.5 million direct jobs each year, according to the International Intellectual Property Alliance.
“In this golden age of content it’s more important than ever that we remain vigilant about copyright protection,” added Jonathan Anschell, EVP and deputy general counsel of CBS. “For the creative community to truly flourish, it must know that its work will be safe from theft.”
Ted Johnson contributed to this report.