Film piracy no big problem, says study

Academics argue that attitudes to copyright are out of date.

by Jennie Kermode

A new study released this week by the London School of Economics suggests that film piracy is not having the harmful effect on the film business that studios claim. Its authors say that the notion of exclusive ownership on which copyright is based isn't economically necessary for many content creators and is out of step with the way the world is changing.

"Despite the Motion Picture Association of America's claim that online piracy is devastating the movie industry, Hollywood achieved record-breaking global box office revenues of $35 billion US in 2012, a 6% increase over 2011," the study notes. It goes on to argue that copyright privileges a limited set of content creators and can potentially disrupt the development of creative communities.

It also points out that attempts to police copyright by closing file sharing websites and arresting individual illegal downloaders have no apparent effect on the amount of revenue received by copyright owners.

"There is a need to foster recognition and economic reward for creators and there is a need for copyright legislation to underpin economic growth," said study co-author Robin Mansell. "But such legislation needs to be consistent with 21st-century values and practices."

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