In response to the growing tide of pirated feature film releases originating from Canadian theaters, Warner Bros. Pictures Canada is taking a bold step to combat piracy, canceling all promotional and word-of-mouth screenings on all of its forthcoming releases, effective immediately. The policy will be implemented with the Studio’s next release, Ocean’s Thirteen, and will be in effect for all films thereafter from Warner Independent Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures, including the July 13 release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
The announcement was made today by Darcy Antonellis, Senior Vice President, Worldwide Anti-Piracy Operations, Warner Bros. Entertainment, and Executive Vice President, Distribution and Technology Operations, Warner Bros. Technical Operations.
The newly enacted policy represents the Studio’s response to the lack of legislation in Canada to curtail the growing wave of camcorder-shot ("camcorded") films being trafficked around the world. From 2003 to 2005, 37 states and the District of Columbia enacted tough laws against camcording. In May of 2005, the U.S. federal government followed suit. Yet, despite incontrovertible evidence that film piracy has become a major economic and law enforcement issue, Canada has not adopted a federal law making camcording illegal or permitting the confiscation of equipment, and, as a result, has become the main source for most of the world’s film piracy.
Over the last 18 months roughly 70% of Warner Bros. titles released have been camcorded in Canada.
"Canada is the number one priority in terms of anti-camcording legislation," Antonellis said. "Within the first week of a film’s release, you can almost be certain that somewhere out there a Canadian copy will show up. Within the last 12 to 18 months we’ve seen a significant increase in terms of first-source proliferation that shows up on the Internet and subsequently shows up as hard goods elsewhere."
"We regret having to cancel our screenings in Canada but our Studio must take steps to protect not only our branded assets but our commitment to our filmmakers and to theaters all over the world," said Dan Fellman, President, Warner Bros. Pictures Domestic, a division of Warner Bros. Distributing Inc. "We’ve been working collaboratively with the exhibitors to encourage the government to put additional measures in place to deter and stop camcording."
"This is an important step towards curbing piracy on a global scale," said Veronika Kwan-Rubinek, President of Distribution, Warner Bros. International. "Piracy is the leading issue the international film industry struggles with everyday and content recorded in Canada is the first place to take action, as Canadian recorded content is distributed and viewed everywhere."
For the past two years, Warner Bros. Pictures Canada has been working with the Canadian Motion Picture Distributors Association (CMPDA) as it has been lobbying the federal government to make the act of camcording a punishable offense.