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Piracy and Cinema

nicoleponsford | Wednesday September 05, 2012

Categories: Film Industry, Copyright & Licensing, Hot Entries

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What is Piracy?

It (sadly) has nothing to do with pirates, eye-patches and parrots. Piracy can also be referred to as copyright infringement of audio-visual works. It refers to the ‘exclusive rights’ to reproduce or perform copyrighted work. Copy right means the ‘right to copy’ / reproduce. Copyright infringement can also refer to copying intellectual property without permission (written) from the copyright holder.

Intellectual Property (IP)

Intellectual Property can be regarded as:

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  1. Copyright - you do not have to apply for this. Once it is written, you are granted automatic copyrights. People are then not allowed to reproduce it without your permission.
  2. Patents - you apply for this to protect your invention / new design.
  3. Trademarks - this protects, and distinguishes you, from other services, products or companies. You must renew it every ten years.
  4. Designs - this is the ‘look’ of something. For example the McDonalds golden arches. It can only be used with McDonalds’ permission.

Copyright protects all types of different audio-visual works, including art, music, writing, TV and film. The main duration of copyright is the duration of the copywriter’s life, plus an additional 70 years. This equates to 70 years from the death of the last living member of the crew. This includes the composer, scriptwriter / author of dialogue / screenplay writer or the principle director. If you / the producers of a film want someone to copy your work, you can then profit from this fee.

The word ‘piracy’ has connotations of robbery at sea or kidnapping. Theft is another way of looking at ‘piracy’- and this has been the theme of many anti-piracy campaigns. In an Article of the 1886 Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, “piracy? is used in reference to copyright infringement (for more see here). It is believed that piracy requires criminal procedures and punishment, as it is normally for financial...


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