The MPAA vs. Piracy in the Age of Recession

So, with as much as 25 percent of its operating budget slashed, how does the Motion Picture Assn. of America maintain its fight against Hollywood Enemy No. 1? (That would be piracy, not Osama bin Laden.) "We're going to have to be more focused … and do more with less," said an MPAA spokesman. Translation: the battle […]

So, with as much as 25 percent of its operating budget slashed, how does the Motion Picture Assn. of America maintain its fight against Hollywood Enemy No. 1?

(That would be piracy, not Osama bin Laden.)

"We're going to have to be more focused … and do more with less," said an MPAA spokesman.

Translation: the battle on piracy has taken a hit.

The timing, of course, could not be worse, as the movie industry finds itself plagued by the same problems that brought the music industry to its knees.

Growing numbers of current films are available illegally online, with tech-savvy kids  figuring out how to crack the codes that protect not just DVDs but Blu-Rays.

So far the MPAA’s attack has been on two fronts: source piracy and unauthorized distribution of movies and TV shows on the Internet. With the loss in funds, it will most likely refocus its efforts on China and Russia, the two main offenders in worldwide piracy. Brazil and India have also been trouble spots, along with parts of the European Union.

The organization has worked extensively in the past with the White House Office of the U.S. Trade Representative as well as senior officials in various federal agencies, such as Customs as well as the Justice and Commerce Departments, to rein in piracy in those countries.

Domestically, online piracy is most prevalent among university students. The MPAA has tried — with some success — to get college administrators to crack down on piracy occurring over campus digital networks.

And the studios are still committed to antipiracy efforts, though until now they have depended to a large part on the MPAA. It’s unlikely those expectations in that area will change, even though the MPAA’s resources are dwindling.