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It's Asia's Turn to Call Out America for Movie Piracy

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Asia, and China in particular, has always bore the brunt of American criticism on copyright infringement. But this time around, the roles have been reversed.
 
The Hong Kong Motion Pictures Industry Association, or MPIA, this week called on YouTube (GOOG) and other video-sharing websites to be more prompt in removing copyright-infringing clips of Hong Kong movies uploaded to the site by its users, reports The Hollywood Reporter.
 
The MPIA noted that it has found on YouTube more than 200 films that have been illegally uploaded, some in their entirety, including high-profile hits like Shaolin Soccer, Ip Man, Jet Li’s Fearless, and Bruce Lee’s classic, Way of the Dragon. The view count of all Hong Kong movies exceeded 40 million, and based on a movie ticket price of HK$60 ($7.73), that amounted to a more than HK$2.4 billion ($30.9 million) loss to the Hong Kong film industry, the MPIA estimated.
 
Particularly galling to John Chong, a producer at Media Asia, was YouTube’s lackadaisical response to its request to remove the Hong Kong film production company’s recent local box office hit, Love in the Buff, which had been uploaded in its entirety.
 
The movie was eventually taken down by YouTube, but Chong said in a statement that the Google-owned site showed “an extreme lack of efficiency in the removal of the pirated videos, but was not responsible for any loss incurred due to the delay in the removal.”
 
“We tried to click the infringement icon on YouTube,” Regina Li, an exec at Media Asia, told the Wall Street Journal. “We clicked it many times.” Li added that the film had already garnered over 180,000 views before YouTube took it down. Media Asia also had to prove that it was in fact the copyright holder of the film.
 
“YouTube repeatedly requested the copyright holder to prove that they are the holder in order to remove the pirated videos of Love in the Buff, while they allow anyone to claim to be the copyright holder when uploading the videos. It’s very unreasonable,” said MPIA CEO Brian Chung to the Hollywood Reporter. “The pirated videos on YouTube greatly hurt the theatrical performance of the film.”
 
Speaking to the Journal, a YouTube flack said that the company takes copyright infringement seriously, and that it always tries to “identify and promptly remove infringing content” when prompted. However, given that 60 hours of video is added to the site every minute, the company “can’t and don’t control the content on our site.”
 
The Hong Kong film industry has been struggling since its heydays in the 1980s, with movies from Hollywood and nearby Korea and Japan having dominated the domestic market in the past two decades, which explains why the MPIA is so worried about YouTube copyright infringement.
 
The MPIA can perhaps take a leaf from Viacom’s (VIA) book. The media giant filed a $1 billion lawsuit against YouTube over issues of copyright infringement in 2007, and recently had the case revived by the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals after a lower court had ruled in favor of YouTube.
 
Meanwhile, movie piracy in China also continues to run rampant, with one report estimating that the pirate DVD industry in the country earned an eye-popping $6 billion in 2010.
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