Anti-pi­rates of the re­gion

David Bu­torac, CEO of OSN, is cer­tainly a man on a mis­sion. His firm, along with a coali­tion of an­tipiracy reg­u­la­tors, has shut down 15 chan­nels that were violating copy­right reg­u­la­tions. Be very afraid

Campaign Middle East - - MEDIA -

David Bu­torac, the nonon­sense CEO of OSN, is in a com­bat­ive mood. Buoyed by the re­cent suc­cess of the fledg­ling Broad­cast Satel­lite Anti-Piracy Coali­tion, he is tak­ing no pris­on­ers.

“There were a num­ber of or­gan­i­sa­tions that were sim­ply steal­ing con­tent, cre­at­ing chan­nels and then tak­ing satel­lite ca­pac­ity to dis­trib­ute it,” he says. “The op­er­a­tors of th­ese chan­nels were tak­ing con­tent from DVDs and con­tent that they had ac­quired, but not li­censed, and turn­ing them into movie chan­nels. In league with the satel­lite in­dus­try, we re­moved 15 of them.”

The coali­tion, which was formed in March this year and in­cludes OSN, the Mo­tion Pic­ture As­so­ci­a­tion of Amer­ica (MPA), the MBC Group, du, STN, JMC, Nile­sat and Arab­sat, said pre­vi­ously that the chan­nels were taken off air as a re­sult of “the con­tin­u­ous mon­i­tor­ing and re­port­ing of in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty in­fringe­ments”. The chan­nels – Al- Mam­nou, Ahl Masar, CDC Cin­ema, CRT Cin­ema, Ho­mos TV, I-Movies, Hol­ly­wood Stars, Kit Kat, Ma­jes­tic 2, Mega Cin­ema, Nessma Al Khadra, QTV, Scope TV Movies, Time Movies and Top Movies – were found to be re­spon­si­ble for more than 700 in­fringe­ments of in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty rights since 1 Jan­uary this year. All were for stu­dio-owned movies.

“Piracy man­i­fests it­self in many dif­fer­ent ways,” says Bu­torac. “There is pure theft piracy, there’s re­dis­tri­bu­tion piracy – whether it’s through IP means or through other broad­cast – that we need to be vig­i­lant of. As an in­dus­try we are seek­ing to ed­u­cate con­sumers about le­git­i­mate ver­sus il­le­git­i­mate broad­cast­ers, whether they are dis­trib­uted through IP or through tra­di­tional satel­lite meth­ods. There’s also dis­tri­bu­tion piracy for plat­forms that per­haps have le­git­i­mate li­cences in their home mar­kets but are ac­tively pur­su­ing sales in mar­kets where they don’t have li­cences. The most ob­vi­ous man­i­fes­ta­tion of that is some of the South Asian plat­forms that are sell­ing to the South Asian com­mu­ni­ties in the Mid­dle East in con­tra­ven­tion of rights that we own. So, as an in­dus­try we have to con­tinue to be vig­i­lant. We mon­i­tor all of the satel­lite broad­casts and where we find piracy we will first seek to ed­u­cate, and if we can’t ed­u­cate we’ll work with the rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties to ex­er­cise the law.”

So far this year, along­side the re­moval from air of the 15 chan­nels, a num­ber of raids have taken place on deal­ers and dis­trib­u­tors in the Mid­dle East that have re­sulted in the ar­rests of peo­ple sell­ing il­le­gal plat­forms.

How­ever, with piracy a many-headed Hy­dra, is the in­dus­try fight­ing a los­ing bat­tle, es­pe­cially when taken to­gether with a gen­eral un­will­ing­ness by con­sumers to pay for con­tent?

“As an in­dus­try, if we took that view then we might as well just shut the doors and walk away, and of course we’re not pre­pared to do that,” replies Bu­torac. “Con­sumers would never seek to buy a stolen tele­vi­sion set or a stolen car, so we ef­fec­tively need to ed­u­cate them as to the value of stolen i ntel­lec­tual prop­erty. Ul­ti­mately, it is an is­sue for mar­kets glob­ally. Somebody has to pay for the con­tent. Somebody has to pay for the con­tin­ued ex­pan­sion of broad­cast in­vest­ments to cre­ate pre­mium con­tent, and it’s quite heart­en­ing that at the mo­ment, glob­ally, the in­vest­ment in pre­mium con­tent is ac­cel­er­at­ing not de­cel­er­at­ing.”

He adds: “If you look at the in­vest­ments that are be­ing made by tra­di­tional broad­cast­ers in pre­mium tele­vi­sion con­tent, there has never been greater in­vest­ments. And if you ac­tu­ally look at the cal­i­bre of peo­ple that are now do­ing tele­vi­sion con­tent, big name Hol­ly­wood ac­tors, direc­tors and pro­duc­ers are now work­ing the tele­vi­sion sphere. Tra­di­tional me­dia is in rude health. The sug­ges­tion that tra­di­tional broad­cast­ing – be it the ad­ver­tis­ing funded freeto-air or sub­scrip­tion funded pay-TV – is a bro­ken model is quite wrong. Our business can con­tinue to be vi­brant but piracy is one of those is­sues that we will need to be ever vig­i­lant for. What we need to do in this re­gion is to en­sure that the au­thor­i­ties take a sim­i­lar view on in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty crime, as au­thor­i­ties in some of the more de­vel­oped mar­kets have taken.” Is this hap­pen­ing? “We need to fight on a reg­u­la­tory and le­gal level, and for that we need the as­sis­tance of gov­ern­ments to do so,” says Bu­torac. “We are seek­ing to ed­u­cate the gov­ern­ments of the re­gion and we get great support from many of the gov­ern­ments, par­tic­u­larly in the UAE and in Saudi Ara­bia, and also from a le­gal per­spec­tive. The po­lice have un­der­taken a num­ber of raids and we an­tic­i­pate that will carry on. Like in all ju­ris­dic­tions, it’s a fight that we will have to fight on many fronts, but we have a com­bi­na­tion of tech­nol­ogy, the support of gov­ern­ments in terms of recog­nis­ing in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty crime, and the coali­tion of broad­cast­ers and broad­cast in­dus­tries. We will con­tinue to fight and will con­tinue to have suc­cesses.”

Don’t mess with them…David Bu­torac and his team take in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty crimes very se­ri­ously

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