Motion Picture Piracy: Controlling the Seemingly Endless Supply of Counterfeit Optical Discs in Taiwan

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Annually, Hollywood loses roughly $3.5 billion dollars in revenue to optical disc piracy in Taiwan. Optical disc piracy involves the camcording or copying of motion pictures onto laser discs, digital versatile discs, or video compact discs. Through the U.S. Trade Representative's satellite enforcement offices in Taiwan and coordination with the Taiwanese legislature and enforcement agencies, the U.S. motion picture companies have been able to influence some change in the frequency and severity of optical disc piracy in Taiwan. This can be mainly attributed to the Motion Picture Association of America's alliance with the U.S. Trade Representative in placing Taiwan on numerous "Special 301" lists, which can have a negative effect on the Taiwan's trade relationship with the United States, public image, and ability to attract foreign investors. The reduction of optical disc piracy in Taiwan is impeded by accession to the World Trade Organization, cultural hurdles, weak domestic film industry and self interest. Nevertheless, U.S. Copyright industries can still influence change externally, by continued pressure under "Special 301"; and, internally, by incentivizing Taiwan businesses and building relationships with governmental and independent intellectual property organizations.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. INTRODUCTION
II. OPTICAL DISC PIRACY
    A.  Optical Disc Piracy
        1. Moviemaking: A "Hit or Miss" Industry
        2. Growing Optical Disc Piracy
        3. The Worldwide Reach of Optical
           Disc Piracy
    B.  Optical Disc Piracy in Taiwan
        1. Mass Producer and Trans-shipment
           Capital
        2. Night Markets
        3. Adaptation by Pirates
III. THE MPAA: STRENGTHENING COPYRIGHT LAW
     & ENFORCEMENT IN TAIWAN
     A.  The MPAA's Copyright Law Enforcement
         Efforts in Taiwan
     B.  The MPAA's Legislative Reform Efforts in
         Taiwan
         1. USTR: "Special 301".
         2. Influencing the USTR
IV. TAIWAN: A LONG HISTORY OF BEING ON THE USTR's
    "SPECIAL 301" LISTS
    A.  IPR Problems from the Very Beginning:
        Taiwan's Stall Tactics
    B.  The Return of the Priority Watch List
        (2000-2004)
        1.  2002: The Action Year of the Protection
            of Intellectual Property Rights
        2.  Prosecuting Optical Disc Pirates Becomes
            Easier
        3.  Failure to Adopt the Executive Yuan's
            2003 Amendments
    C.  Continued Improvement Leads to a Downgrade
        to the Watch List (Late 2004-Present)
V.  ANALYSIS
    A.  Why Taiwan May Concede
        1.  Internal Pressure: Rise of Domestic
            Intellectual Property
        2.  External Pressure: Trade Leverage by
            the United States
        3.  Past Practice
    B.  Why Taiwan May Not Concede
        1.  Cultural hurdles
        2.  Weak Domestic Film Industry
        3.  Self Interest & WTO Accession
    C.  Recommendation for the Abatement of
        Optical Disc Piracy in Taiwan
        1.  Externally Influencing Structural
            Change in Taiwan
        2.  Breeding Change from Within
            a. Incentivizing Taiwanese Businesses
            b. Increased Public Awareness
               Campaigns
            c. Building Relationships with
               Governmental and Independent
               IP Organizations
VI.    CONCLUSION

I. INTRODUCTION

Piracy is "the unauthorized taking, copying or use of copyrighted materials without the authorization of the" copyright owner. (1) The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) (2) reports that Hollywood lost $3.5 billion in revenue to piracy in 2002. (3) This does not include revenues lost by non-major studios or through internet piracy, which are difficult to track. (4)

Optical disc piracy involves the illegal copying of motion pictures onto an optical disc, a term which encompasses laser discs, digital versatile discs (DVDs), (5) and video compact discs (VCDs), (6) a lower quality optical disc format popular in Asia. …