Film Distributors’ Association rewards cinema staff for thwarting film piracy


Cash rewards of thousands of pounds have been presented to thirteen staff members from cinemas across the UK who intervened successfully to prevent illegal recordings of films including Skyfall, Ted, The Dark Knight Rises and The Hobbit.

The thirteen vigilant staff members were active in 12 separate incidents in UK cinemas during the autumn/winter season, six of which involved attempts to record Skyfall from the screen. All 12 incidents were reported to local police, resulting in two arrests.

Callum McDougall, Executive Producer of Skyfall, says, “The success of a film such as Skyfall is due to all those who worked on it and whose jobs depend on there being continued investment in new films. On behalf of all the cast and crew we are delighted with the outstanding efforts made by cinema staff in tackling the criminal activity of recording films illegally.”

The rewards scheme is part of a wide-ranging theatrical protection programme, funded by UK film distributors via Film Distributors’ Association (FDA) since 2006. It also provides vital extra resources for the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) to support cinema exhibitors’ staff training; an on-going supply of night vision devices to help cinema staff deter recording attempts in situ; and an education campaign including school resources on copyright.

The impact of this programme may be measured by the fact that no pirated recordings were sourced to a UK cinema release in 2012. Yet worldwide, illegal recordings from cinemas remain the single biggest source of both counterfeit DVDs and unauthorised copies online. All it takes is one digital copy which can be duplicated swiftly at minimal cost.

Kieron Sharp, FACT Director General, adds, “Cinema staff are the frontline in protecting films from being pirated and I am always pleased to be able to recognise their work. FACT’s strategy funded by the film distributors seeks to prevent pirate copies being made, distributed and accessed and that is why we continue to work together with UK cinema operators to ensure recordings do not get made and to support the success of the cinema experience.”

The film industry contributes to ‘UK plc’ in many ways including supporting 117,000 jobs, while films depicting the UK generate approximately 10% of the revenues from overseas tourism. Overall, the film industry contributes over £4.6 billion to UK GDP and more than £1.3 billion to the Exchequer according to independent research by Oxford Economics in 2012.

One of the world’s most important markets for film, the UK accounted for 7% of global cinema box-office receipts in 2012. This enduring success is underpinned by FDA/FACT’s content protection programme, which aims to make the UK as safe and secure an environment in which to release films as possible. Distributors brought 646 feature films to UK cinemas last year, more than ever before.

Mark Batey, Chief Executive of the FDA, concludes, “Cinema is fantastically buoyant and maintains its position as the powerhouse of the film industry in the UK. The big screen experience continues to offer the public a really attractive night out with a wide diversity of films on offer as more than 600 titles were released last year. The success of FACT’s content protection programme working with distributors supports the success of great films from Argo and Life of PI to Skyfall and The Hobbit to achieve their full potential to engage with cinema audiences across the UK.”

Ultimately the sector can only be safeguarded through the co-operation and diligence of cinema staff on the front line and today the UK is one of the best protected countries.

[Reported by Neil Lang]