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Wednesday, 7 March, 2001, 18:03 GMT
Hollywood faces piracy battle
Hollywood sign
Now Hollywood has reason to fear the net
New technology threatens to bring the film industry the same copyright problems as the music industry, Hollywood's biggest studios have warned.

The head of the Motion Picture Assocoiation of America, which represents the studios, told the ShoWest trade convention an increasing number of films are being downloaded from the internet each day.

MPAA Chief Executive Jack Valenti told the Las Vegas gathering: "Some 270,000 movies are illegitimately downloaded every day.

"By the end of this year it is estimated that a million films will be pirated each day by otherwise rationally-minded Americans who ought to know that creative works are private property."

The major studios are all experimenting with pay-per-view technology which uses the internet to bring films direct to the home.

Box office record

Mr Valenti also said the US box office take for the year 2000 had reached an all time high of $7.7 billion (5.1 million), although the number of cinema admissions was slightly down on the previous year.

Film camera
Studios are experimenting with pay-per-view technology
Since 1991, US cinema admissions have climbed 25 per cent, and the average US citizen makes five visits to the cinema per year, more than anywhere else in the world.

But the cost of making and marketing films has increased ahead of inflation, Mr Valenti noted.

Piracy battle

The MPAA has been active in attacking piracy and campaigning for stronger copyright protection for the US film industry.

It has taken legal action against software providers offering utilities that break copyright-protecting codes in DVD discs and in July 2000 took a joint action with record industry groups against, an internet-based service which enabled users to search for both music and film files.

Mr Valenti added that cinemas also faced "the most lacerating kind of competition for the eyes and ears of consumers" from video, cable and satellite, television, computers and video games.

"The theatre circuits will soon become leaner, stronger, and fitter to confront all the challenges.

"So long as you provide customers with an epic viewing experience they cannot duplicate in their homes, so long as each new generation of filmmakers enlarges and beautifies the art of visual story-telling, then so long will we travel that sweet road that leads to success," he said.

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