[A2k] TPP/IP: Politico: Hollywood seeks big gains from Asia-Pacific pact

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Thu Jul 30 08:50:27 PDT 2015


*Hollywood seeks big gains from Asia-Pacific pact*

By DOUG PALMER <http://www.politicopro.com/REPORTERS/?ID=986>

7/29/15 5:00 AM EDT

KAANAPALI, Hawaii — Disney and other major Hollywood studios hope a
proposed Asia-Pacific trade agreement will expand profits in the
fast-growing region by strengthening copyright terms and cracking down on
piracy that cut into sales.

Here in the land of “Lilo and Stitch” and not far from where Elvis filmed
“Blue Hawaii,” trade negotiators from 12 countries are trying to hammer out
final details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership pact, which could shape the
rules for intellectual property protection for decades to come.

U.S. production houses want their piece of the action and are looking to
extend copyright terms of 70 years from publication for sound recordings
and the life of the author plus 70 years for movies — the standard in most
U.S. free-trade agreements — to TPP countries with shorter protection

The industry also wants stronger civil and criminal penalties for piracy,
which they say reduces the market for legitimate sales. That’s especially
true as the Internet becomes the dominant entertainment platform and
unauthorized copies of recently released works are easily found.

“IP [intellectual property rights protection] and market access are really
two sides of the same coin,” Anissa Brennan, the Motion Picture Association
of America’s vice president for international affairs and trade policy,
said just before heading to Maui for the TPP meeting. “If you have one
without the other, you’re not going to be able to effectively compete.”

Still, digital rights groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation see
many things they don’t like in the TPP chapter on intellectual property
rights. They said a leaked text shows U.S. negotiators are pushing for
copyright terms more restrictive than currently required by international

They also object to several other potential provisions, including proposed
language to require TPP countries to ban the picking of digital locks, or
“technological protection measures,” which are intended to prevent music,
movies or software from being reproduced without permission.

That could require New Zealand to overhaul its innovative 2008 copyright
law and override Australia’s 2007 exemptions from some protective measures,
such as region-coding on DVDs and video games and embedded software that
restricts access to goods and services for devices, the group said on its
website <https://www.eff.org/issues/tpp>.

Many of the TPP countries, such as Japan and New Zealand, are widely open
to U.S. films, but Vietnam has significant barriers and Malaysia to a
lesser degree, industry officials said. Also, Canada excluded market access
commitments on cultural goods and services under the North American Free
Trade Agreement, a situation U.S. industry would like to correct even
though they don’t currently face significant barriers there.

“We want to make sure there aren’t any broad cultural carve outs” in the
TPP, Brennan said. “Our strongly held view is that audio visual services
and goods are heavily traded. These are international products and they
should benefit from trade disciplines just like any other product.”

Hollywood’s concern with protecting its works can begin as early as when
words get put on a page, Bryan Spicer, co-executive producer and director
of the TV series “Hawaii Five-O,” said at an event organized by the U.S.
Chamber of Commerce on the sidelines of the talks.

“When they have a feature script, they’ll do it in red — red letters — so
it can’t be xeroxed or copied to try to protect the value,” Spicer said.
“So the script can’t leak out to the public before they’ve even made the
movie, like ‘Jurassic Park 3’ or films like that.”

The U.S. business community argues that developing countries would benefit
from stronger intellectual property protections because they reward
creative ideas and innovation.

“Usually, we’re the American company coming into the foreign country to
make an American product,” Spicer said. “But it would be great to see
[more] foreign countries make their own products to see what they have to
offer — the stories and the culture.”

A coalition including the MPAA, the recording industry, software companies,
book publishers and video game makers argues tough and enforceable
provisions are needed to help protect the jobs of 5.5 million American
workers in core copyright industries and nearly 6 million more in related
fields. Together, they account for nearly 10 percent of U.S. private
employment, the group said.

The United States and Canada comprise the world’s biggest theatrical movie
market with $10.4 billion in box office receipts in 2014, according to
MPAA’s annual report. But the two countries today account for only about 28
percent of the global market compared to 34 percent in 2010. The rest of
the world racked up $26 billion in movie tickets sales last year.

By far, the fastest growth has been in the Asia Pacific, which saw a 12
percent rise from the year before, to $12.4 billion. China, which is not
part of the TPP talks, fueled that increase. But proponents argue setting
high standards will put pressure on Beijing to follow along, especially if
it decides to join the pact, billed as a “living agreement” that is open to
new members. China has long been a major concern on the piracy front, both
in the form of illegal downloads and bootleg copies of CDs and DVDs.

The Asia-Pacific region already has the most movie screens of any region of
world: more than 47,000 compared to about 43,000 for the United States and
Canada. It also has the most digital 3-D screens, nearly 28,000, or about
43 percent of the world total. Hollywood’s attempts to market to an Asian
audience can easily be seen in animated films such “Mulan” and “Kung Fu
Panda.” But even Disney’s Scandinavian-inspired hit “Frozen” was dubbed
into Vietnamese, demonstrating just how ubiquitous the song “Let it Go
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMCMKGREhfY>” really became.

The movie industry’s hopes for the TPP also includes the elimination of
duties on digital goods, such as DVDs, still widely watched in Asian
markets. Another tariff priority reflects the near-extinction of “analog”
movie screens in favor of digital ones. Not that long ago, most films were
shown in theaters using 35- or 70-millimeter reels. Now, they are commonly
distributed on a type of hard drive known as digital cinema packages, or
DCPs, which are often heavily taxed as they cross borders.

Meanwhile, camcording is still not outlawed in many TPP countries, another
situation that industry groups hope the pact will correct. The majority of
the pirated movies that show up on the Internet are recorded in cinemas
using high-quality digital camcorders, usually within days of release.

“It only takes one person anywhere in the world illegally copying film to
derail the product’s marketability,” said Patrick Kilbride, executive
director of international intellectual property at the U.S. Chamber of
Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center. While the TPP can’t
completely stop the practice, it can take an important step, he said.

The U.S. music industry, which has transformed itself into an
Internet-based business, also is looking for market access gains and
increased protections from the the pact.

“We operate in a globalized environment,” said Neil Turkewitz, executive
vice president for the Recording Industry Association of America. “So,
trying to harmonize substantively both copyright and enforcement provisions
to the extent that you can is useful, since you want the legal normative
framework to match the business framework.”

So as more and more consumers get their music through digital downloads or
online streaming sites Apple and Spotify, the industry looks to pacts like
the TPP to help fight piracy on the Internet, which the Institute for
Policy Innovation estimates
the U.S. economy $12.5 billion annually in lost economic output, including
company revenues and worker earnings.

“Ten years ago we were concerned about production and distribution of
pirate CDs,” Turkewitz said. “While it still is an issue, it pales in
comparison to trying to create rules for a thriving legitimate online
market. We’re trying to promote greater accountability through the Internet
ecosystem to achieve that goal. [We’re trying] to make sure that the
Internet is not just a free-for-all, that there are rules and those rules
are enforceable.”

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