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Division to focus on watermarking, enforcement

Now the studios are really getting serious about piracy.

Warner Bros. has established Hollywood’s first worldwide antipiracy unit, with offices on four continents to coordinate the studio’s strategy.

Headed by recently appointed senior veepee of worldwide antipiracy operations Darcy Antonellis, unit will have offices in Europe, Asia and Latin America to work on antipiracy enforcement, public policy, internal content protection and new business initiatives.

“We have a variety of resources cross-company and cross-divisionally to combat piracy,” Antonellis explained. “This group will work across all those efforts to ensure that resources are appropriately assigned and we focus on our key priorities.”

Antonellis was upped to her new position in March after previously serving as exec VP, distribution and technology operations (Daily Variety, March 25). Heading up her unit’s activities in Europe out of London is Jodi Nesis Benaim, who was named senior VP, European antipiracy operations. She is moving over from her recent position as senior VP, corporate business development and strategy, Europe.

WB will later appoint toppers for its antipiracy offices in Asia, to be based in Hong Kong, and Latin America, which will most likely be Miami-based.

New unit will be relatively small, with some 25 employees worldwide.

Its responsibilities span theatrical, TV and homevideo. Antonellis said a key goal will be implementing watermarking on every piece of studio content so that pirated copies can be tracked back to the source, whether internal or at post houses. Warner Bros. and other studios used digital watermarks to aid authorities in tracking leaked Academy screeners.

Studio will also utilize the new unit to coordinate enforcement efforts and policy lobbying with the MPA and other studios.

In addition, the antipiracy group will work on new business initiatives for digital distribution of Warner Bros. content. Studio currently rents out its films online via MovieLink and CinemaNow and provides some video through sibling AOL.

“We want to offer consumers a variety of options of content for sale in a variety of ways at different price points,” Antonellis said. “It will cut across a variety of platforms whether on-demand, online, wireless or in traditional outlets.”