Digital piracy harms more than stars, MPAA explains

LOS ANGELES: The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and seven major movie studios last week launched a PSA campaign to build awareness about the threat of digital piracy.

LOS ANGELES: The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and seven major movie studios last week launched a PSA campaign to build awareness about the threat of digital piracy.

The effort kicked off Thursday night with a 30-second spot running at the same time on more than 35 networks and cable outlets. On Friday, the PSAs, produced by 20th Century Fox, began to run as movie trailers in theaters across the country.

This is the first major initiative of the MPAA PR Council, which was formed in December and comprises senior PR representatives from the association and each of the studios.

Marta Grutka, West Coast director of public affairs for the MPAA, said the goal behind

the program is to help staunch piracy before it inflicts the level of damage it has on the recording industry, which has suffered a massive dent in sales due in part to file-sharing.

"We're approaching this from many levels," she said, "from finding technical solutions to pushing legislation."

Consumer research conducted by the MPAA demonstrated that "people really don't understand the value of copyright and they don't understand the dangers to those industries that are posed by digital piracy," she said. As a result, the campaign addresses a very fundamental issue - indifference.

The website contains a section called "Why should I care?" which explains how piracy can harm the careers of those who make much less than the stars, like makeup artists and stuntmen. In addition to lesser-known members of movie crews, the 65-second spots feature Ben Affleck and director James Cameron.

"All of the issues have been oversimplified in the media coverage," she said.

Because piracy affects moviemaking from top to bottom, it was a natural first issue for the PR Council, which meets once a week to brainstorm ideas.

"Education is something we have to work together on," said Teri Everett, VP of corporate communications for News Corp., which owns 20th Century Fox. "We're all working very closely."

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