Asia biz bands against P2P piracy

The industries crack down on illegal fileswapping

HONG KONG — The TV, film and recording industries in Asia Pacific have come together for the first time to battle increasing peer-to-peer uploads and downloads that are wreaking havoc on their businesses.

Members of the three industries were joined by government officials, lawyers and academics for a Jan. 23 symposium on copyright issues, organized by the Film, Television and Recording Industries’ Copyright Concern Group.

The situation is troubling.

Sam Ho, the Motion Picture Assn.’s director of operations for Greater China, said that there were 107 instances of peer-to-peer piracy in Hong Kong in 2003. That figure jumped to 2,770 in 2004; and 88% of that could be traced to BitTorrent and eDonkey technologies, Ho said.

Another alarming statistic: The MPA conducted a survey on five Web sites for “Kung Fu Hustle” and observed 153 downloads of the film in just two seconds. The majority originated in China with four in Canada and three in the United States.

New legislation and enforcement is important, along with public education, particularly for younger generations that may only have experience with movies or music in a digital medium.

“Make young people understand that certain actions are illegal rather than forcing them into a certain direction through legislation,” said Edmund Kwok, a professor of history at Chinese University.

Frederic Delacroix of the ALPA, a French anti-piracy organization, shared some proposals in France that take a step beyond legislation.

The first step is sending letters to pirates once illegal activity is detected. If the activity continues, then their Internet service would be targeted.

This would be enforceable because Internet service providers would have a clause stating that counterfeiting activities could result in the reducing, canceling or suspension of a subscription, Delacroix said. The piracy would then not only be against the law, but also against the clause between the user and the ISP.

The government is holding a consultation on the territory’s copyright law. The film industry plans to submit its suggestions in mid-February.