Hollywood studios, due to an increasing issue of internet piracy, are threatening Georgia with sanctions

Online copyright piracy is the practice of illegally reproducing and sharing information on the internet, such as movies or software. Internet Piracy is one of the most alarming growing problems in the modern technological world. Worldwide, users made a total of 300 billion visits to internet piracy sites in 2017, and the number doesn’t seem to be dramatically dropping anytime soon. While the economic losses because of online piracy speak billions in numbers, its no less concerning that 70% of online users report they find nothing wrong with it. How does Georgia fit into all this?

For most of Georgians movie piracy is a part of their every-day routine. First, the laws protecting copyright rights did not used to be very strict, laying ground for movie piracy online platforms to become very popular. Now, although the law is getting stricter against online piracy, thanks to the work done by National Intellectual Property Center of Georgia (NIPCG), movie piracy sites are so normalized in the Georgian conception that the majority of people genuinely don’t see why people would pay for Netflix and similar platforms to watch movies when they can do it for free on Georgian websites like Adjaranet and iMovies. That might change now that the President and Managing Director of the Motion Picture Association in the EMEA region (MPA EMEA) Stan McCoy has written to the Chairman of NIPCG Genadi Lobjanidze.

The MPA represents global creators and distributors of audio-visual entertainment, the members of which are: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures; Netflix Studios, LLC: Paramount Pictures Corporation: Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc; Universal City Studios LLC; and Warner Bros. Entertainment. The letter addressed to NIPCG Chairman Lobjanidze claims that movie piracy remains a significant problem for the members of the association and some Georgian platforms are contributing to the expansion of the problem.

“As the industry grows and expands across multiple markets and mediums, the MPA’s global mission to support the business of storytelling and protect those who work in the industry is becoming ever more crucial. Reducing piracy continues to be a key priority for us and enforcement is a necessary and important step to achieve this priority. In Georgia, services such as adjaranet.com and imovies.ge, which make available movies from MPA member companies without their consent, present a significant problem,” reads the letter of Mr. McCoy.

“The MPA salutes the progression that has been made regarding the reduce of movie piracy and looks forward to legal establishments that will make high quality content available for Georgian viewers,” he goes on.

“The MPA also looks forward to seeing how local rights-holders and international partners can work together to promote the availability of legal, high quality content for Georgian viewers. We recognize the work done by the National Intellectual Property Center of Georgla as an important driver to achieve that objective,” his letter concludes.

The letter is merely a warning. However, if the State fails to address the problem correspondingly, the Association will put sanctions on Georgia in the form of delays or cancellation of movie and TV premieres. This, of course, will not affect Georgia’s economy positively, not to say anything about the country’s image.

By Nini Dakhundaridze

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