The Internet is being flooded with pirates that put Californians’ intellectual property at risk. I don’t have to tell you, but the entertainment industry itself employs hundreds of thousands in California, and it’s not just in LA. Emeryville hosts the creative geniuses behind Toy Story 3 at the Pixar Animation Studio and George Lucas spent an estimated $350 million for his digital arts studio in the Presidio. Not to mention the up-and-coming studios and production facilities that are in the City employing multitudes of producers, editors and actors.
So what, beyond Pirates of the Caribbean 4, do pirates have to do with California’s entertainment industry? Plenty. As you read this, pirated copies of new movies will have virtually flooded the Internet. For example, Cisco predicts that by 2014 it will take more than two years to watch the video that will cross the global IP network every second. Of this mind-boggling amount of video, a large part of it is unauthorized video content stolen from California studios. In fact, the Motion Picture Industry of America estimates that it loses over $25 billion a year to piracy.
What does this mean for California? In its most simplistic terms, it means lost opportunity for jobs and investment. The studios are faced with a tough recession, and, the popular wisdom that the industry is recession proof is being challenged in light of studio consolidations and release numbers. If the industry is bleeding billions of dollars to pirates, that’s money it could be otherwise investing in movie-making, and, consequentially job-making. The Internet marketplace has provided opportunity like we could never have imagined for the entertainment industry and innovators across the state but it also has created an opportunity for very costly mischief. As a state, and as a nation, we need to arm the federal government with the tools it needs to take on those who seek to unfairly and unlawfully profit from the labors of California’s best and brightest.
Senator Patrick Leahey recently sponsored a bill, S.3804, the “Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act” that was co-sponsored by our own Senator Dianne Feinstein that will do just that. It gives the feds an expedited means to take on rogue websites whose business model it is to facilitate the digital theft of copyrighted works. Last week, a large, and diverse cross-section, of the Internet marketplace wrote a letter to Senator Leahey supporting swift passage of S.3804, including Sony Music Entertainment, Disney, NBC Universal, and Major League Baseball (Go Giants!). CALinnovates would like to echo their support on behalf of our membership of California innovators and specifically to thank Senator Feinstein for her support of California innovation against the very real, and not very cute, threat of piracy.