May 14 - As the Cannes film festival gets underway, Joanna Partridge looks at the growing problem of piracy and what the big film makers are doing to combat it.
Hollywood sparkle on the French Riviera. Cannes welcomes the film industry's elite - but this year's movie selection has been criticised for not being glamorous enough to bring stars to the red carpet. It remains the festival most big industry players want to attend, but Ramin Setoodeh from entertainment magazine Variety says it's not what it was. SOUNDBITE: RAMIN SETOODEH, SENIOR EDITOR AT VARIETY, SAYING (English): "The film industry like all other industries and businesses right now is hurting a little bit, so you see that, a little bit, Cannes scaling back." One big challenge is piracy - which hits revenue from the box office and DVD sales. That's led to changing film release schedules. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 unusually had its world premiere in London, before opening in Asia - where piracy is rife - and then finally in the U.S. It's thought people are more likely to pirate a movie which isn't yet available in their own country. Director Marc Webb says he worries about people spreading spoilers. SOUNDBITE: Marc Webb, Director, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, saying (English): "It's tricky because you want to protect the experience for everybody, you want that moment when people go into the cinema and the lights go down to be sacred, but you also want people to hear about the movie and talk about the movie but when people see the movie, hopefully they'll keep what needs to be private private." In the UK, creative content owners have been trying to thrash out a deal with internet services providers to track down and warn illegal downloaders. Philip Herbert is a Partner at law firm Hamlins. SOUNDBITE: Philip Herbert, Partner, Hamlins, saying (English): "They have agreed to enter into a voluntary process, which is going to be known as VCAP, whereby a Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme is put into operation and alerts as an educational warning to individuals." That deal wouldn't see any penalities sent to illegal downloaders. U.S. firm Rightscorp goes one step further. It uses technology to monitor peer-to-peer file sharing sites. It's been working with Warner Bros. and has already settled over 60,000 cases of coypright infringement in the U.S. Christopher Sabec, Rightscorp CEO, says they send illegal downloaders a $20 fine, which - if paid - ends their legal liability. SOUNDBITE: Christopher Sabec, CEO, Rightscorp, saying (English): "It's similar to a parking ticket mentality, where it's a, it lets people know it's wrong, it educates them and it's positive as far as the brand is concerned. We want somebody who pirates a best-selling author, a best-selling artist or a best-selling movie to still be a fan of that product afterwards, and just understand that they can't take it for free, and that people that control the content, the people that created the content, need to have the ability to determine how and when it's consumed." Rightscorp are now expanding the service to Canada and Europe and looking to Asia. The real challenge is making pirates realise free content will eventually come at a price.