MPA Content-Protection Wing’s War Against Piracy: ‘We Will Find You and Shut Down Your Servers’

MPA Content-Protection Wing’s War Against Piracy: ‘We Will Find You and Shut Down Your Servers’

March 9, 2022

At any given moment, upward of 100 crack MPA investigators are on the hunt of pirates — not unlike the king’s sailors of olden days, ready to do battle. But the MPA is chasing those who would co-opt the world’s intellectual property.

That’s the reassuring message of Jan van Voorn, the MPA’s executive vice president and chief of global content protection, who claims to bound out of bed every morning, eager to take on the malefactors.

“I’m out there to protect the legitimate content creators, big and small. We’re out there to keep the marketplace clean, and most of the time we’re dealing with very bad guys. I’m happy to oppress the bad guys and let legitimate companies thrive.”

Bad guys emerged instantly when the home video revolution enabled mass duplication of bootleg cassettes, and later DVDs, to be sold cheaply from black market to flea market. Such centralized operations gave way, with the dawn of the internet, to a decentralized model in which individual file sharers would trade content with their friends — a much harder paradigm to monitor, van Voorn concedes.

Today’s proliferation of illegal subscription services, which can stream thousands of hours of movies and sports on the cheap, is a return to centralization, and van Voorn says, “It’s easier to attack. There are points of failure: There’s a server somewhere that hosts these files. So we can go after these content locations accordingly.”

Can do, and have done: From a high of 1,400 illegal platforms in North America alone in 2019, the antipiracy campaigns have reduced that number to 238 in 2021, “with many other cases still in the pipeline.”

IP defenders employ four tactics, which can escalate as need warrants. The politest is the familiar cease-and-desist letter — “Don’t do it again, or there’ll be a penalty” — though appealing directly to middlemen, tactic #2, can be even more effective. The pirates “all rely on intermediaries,” van Voorn points out, “hosting, payments, advertising, social media. We are working to disrupt and take down all these players in the ecosystem.”

The MPA is more than willing to escalate to civil litigation, and then to criminal referrals in concert with worldwide authorities. And van Voorn adds, “We’re not just telling law enforcement, ‘Look at this service, you should investigate it.’ We investigate, identifying and locating the operators and connecting them to the actual content holders — basically giving them a case on a silver platter.”

Efforts have intensified since 2017’s formation of the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), a coalition of almost three dozen, high-impact global companies in unprecedented cooperation designed to drive traffic to legitimate content platforms, and in so doing, support creativity with both the consumers’ cash and their ethics. Ongoing education initiatives emphasize how piracy undercuts jobs, delays creativity, and discourages further investment in content.

Karyn Temple, the MPA’s senior executive VP and global general counsel, tells Variety that ACE is part of the legal department, collaborating closely with the Content Protection Team with a “holistic team of lawyers and investigators” working with CPA throughout the world.

“It’s important to ensure that creators have a way to effectively monetize and distribute their works. And that new types of creative art can continually be pushed out there, that regions, new markets can be developed. It’s important that you have the legal environment that supports that.”

So for anyone thinking of getting into the piracy business, what is Jan van Voorn’s advice?

“Don’t do it. Because we are out there every day all day, and we will find you and shut down your servers … We are on top of the game.”

Rivkin adds, “It’s an unending fight because piracy morphs with technology. Piracy today is not a guy on a corner selling stolen DVDs. these are criminal enterprises that are involved in everything from sex trafficking to money laundering to working on the dark web — these are bad guys. We’re taking them down.

“About 2.6 million jobs in the United States are supported by our industry. The public often thinks of us as the people who walk the red carpet. But the industry is really made up of construction workers and electricians and caterers and hairdresssers and set designers and art directors. Those people won’t have jobs if there’s no money to make the movies.”

Source: Read Full Article