MPA: Trade Barriers Hurt Film Biz

Piracy and other trade barriers is preventing the American film business from reaping the full multibillion-dollar potential of the product it distributes overseas, according to a report by the Motion

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter)--Piracy and other trade barriers is preventing the American film business from reaping the full multibillion-dollar potential of the product it distributes overseas, according to a report by the Motion Picture Assn.

Piracy alone is estimated to have cost the industry $3 billion-$4 billion a year. But dozens of other trading conditions--from quotas to tariffs to other "distorting" restraints --are also causing headaches in licensing filmed entertainment to offshore theaters, broadcasters and pay TV systems and in dealing with the new technologies of VCDs, DVDs and the Internet, according to the MPA's "2004 Report to the United States Trade Representative."

The 521-page loose-leaf book details "trade barriers to the exports of U.S. filmed entertainment" to almost every nook and cranny of the globe, with special sections on individual countries from Argentina to Vietnam.

"The biggest challenges are optical disc piracy, Internet piracy and the stern enforcement of copyright laws," MPA chairman and CEO Jack Valenti said in the report. "Intellectual property, in whose company movies, TV programs and home video are included, remains an awesome engine of economic growth for the American fiscal landscape. Which is why protection of valuable creative works has to be at the highest level of priority for the United States."

But that's only the tip of the iceberg in a voluminous listing of trade-barrier categories that include import policies; testing, labeling and certification standards; government procurement policies; quotas on the import of foreign films; restraints on the services of lawyers, accountants and other professionals; restrictions on the repatriation of funds; anticompetitive practices; and a slew of other factors that descend to the level of bribery and corruption.

The MPA report is also meant to serve as the film industry's position paper to the U.S. Trade Representative's ongoing negotiations for free-trade agreements, which the MPA and its member companies believe "are likely to play a very significant role in raising the standards of intellectual property protection."
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