MPAA Filing to USTR on Worlds Most Notorious Markets

The Motion Picture Association of America submits the following response to the request for written submissions issued September 26, 2014, by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, inviting submissions from the public on notorious markets outside of the United States.

The American motion picture and television industry is a major U.S. employer that supported 1.9 million jobs and $111 billion in total wages in 2012. Over 293,000 jobs were in the core business of producing, marketing, manufacturing and distributing motion pictures and television shows. These include people employed in film and television production-related jobs on a free- lance basis, part time or full time at major studios, independent production companies, and core industry suppliers like film labs, special effects and digital studios, location services, and prop and wardrobe houses dedicated to the production industry, among others. These are high quality jobs, with an average salary of $86,500, 76 percent higher than the average salary nationwide.

Another nearly 360,000 jobs were in related businesses that distribute motion pictures and television shows to consumers, including people employed at movie theaters, video retail and rental operations, television broadcasters, cable companies, and new dedicated online ventures. The industry also supports indirect jobs in the thousands of companies that do business with the industry, such as caterers, dry cleaners, florists, hardware and lumber suppliers, and retailers.

Notably, our industry is also a nationwide network of small businesses: more than 99,000 businesses in total, located in every state in the country. These are mainly small businesses; 85 percent employ fewer than 10 people.

The American motion picture and television production industry remains one of the most highly competitive in the world. In 2012, the enduring value and global appeal of U.S. entertainment earned $16.2 billion in audiovisual services exports, up 11 percent over 2011. Moreover, this industry is one of the few that consistently generates a positive balance of trade. In 2012, that services trade surplus was $13.6 billion, or six percent of the total U.S. private-sector trade surplus in services. The industry exported six times what it imported in 2012.

The industry distributes its films and TV shows to over 140 countries and with approximately half of MPAA member companies’ distribution revenue annually earned from overseas, MPAA has a strong interest in the health and sustainability of these international markets. This is particularly true online, as movies and television shows are available to watch through more than 400 legitimate digital services worldwide. MPAA greatly appreciates USTR’s interest in identifying notorious markets that jeopardize the growth of these vibrant online markets (and their physical counterparts), threaten legitimate commerce, curb U.S. competitiveness, and hurt our overall economic strength. It is critical that our trading partners protect and enforce intellectual property rights.

Below, the MPAA has identified both online and physical notorious markets that offer a significant volume of infringing film and television content, consistent with USTR’s request for “examples of Internet and physical notorious markets, including foreign trade zones that allegedly facilitate substantial trademark counterfeiting and copyright piracy.”

This list should not be understood to be comprehensive. It does, however, indicate the scope and scale of global content theft and some of the ongoing challenges rights holders face in protecting their intellectual property. The list also discusses several forms of content theft which seriously impact the ability of the U.S. motion picture and television industry to compete successfully overseas, underscoring the need for a focused, strategic U.S. policy.

In the U.S. and around the world, the motion picture and television industry is a community of creators, innovators, and visionaries who work tirelessly at the art and craft of storytelling. Today, audiences across the globe have access to more of this content than ever before through technologies unheard of just a few years ago. Creators are inspired to continue creating when they know that others cannot simply steal their content and profits. That proposition is at the heart of our interest in deterring copyright theft. While there is no single solution, we all have a role to play in underscoring the importance – and wide, growing availability – of legitimate sources of content, and in seeking ways to reduce harmful and illegal activity both online and offline. MPAA continues to develop global consumer resources, such as, to help audiences learn more about legitimate sources of content and to protect creators and consumers alike.

While the content industry continues to innovate to offer audiences more options to consume the movies and television shows they want, unfortunately the criminals who offer goods and services through these notorious markets also continue to evolve. The MPAA continues to work with global partners against criminal organizations and activities in an effort to protect consumers not only from the dangers of illicit audiovisual goods and services, but other potential threats, such as malware. USTR’s efforts to shine a light on the most egregious instances of copyright theft around the world is an essential step in fostering creativity and innovation, not only in the film and television industry but throughout the creative economy.