Film Industry Battles Video Piracy with Electronic Spoiling System

By Roger Gillott, Ap | THE JOURNAL RECORD, July 30, 1986 | Go to article overview

Film Industry Battles Video Piracy with Electronic Spoiling System


Roger Gillott, Ap, THE JOURNAL RECORD


LOS ANGELES - The film industry, which is losing $1 billion a year to video pirates, is trying to fight back with Macrovision, an elec tronic spoiling system that could soon be found in up to 80 percent of all new cassettes.

Aimed primarily at the casual offender, Macrovision is considered by industry leaders to be the only reliable system to date to stymie the piracy problem, which accounts for one of every five tapessold.

With the purchase of several thousand dollars in electronic gear, professional pirates can probably beat the Macrovision system, officials say.

""But for the average homeowner with an average machine, it should stop duplication,'' said former FBI agent Richard Bloeser, who heads the Los Angeles film security office of the Motion Picture Association of America.

Typical household piracy involves the duplication of a legitimate video tape, usually a rented feature-length movie, using two interconnected videocassette recording machines. One machine is used for playing the legitimate tape and the other for simultaneously recording it on a blank tape, which is then kept for unlimited home viewing.

Three-year-old Macrovision Inc. of Torrance, Calif., already has signed contracts to sell its system to a number of top videocassette companies. Within the next three months, it expects to have a lock on more than 80 percent of the industry, according to Chief Operating Officer Gary Gwizdala.

""It's the best system we know of. That's why we're using it,'' says Phil Pictaggi, senior vice president of MCA Home Video, which employs the anti-piracy system on about 75 percent of its cassettes at a cost of a few cents a copy.

Bud O'Shay, senior vice president of the 20th Century Fox portion of CBS-Fox Home Video, the biggest in the industry, acknowledges that Macrovision most likely will not thwart the hard-core pirate.

""Probably anyone who wants to build a black box can defeat any system,'' he said.

However, that's not deterring CBS-Fox from its plans to use Macrovision system on all its videocassettes.

Besides MCA and CBS-Fox, other home-video leaders who have turned to Macrovision are MGM and Disney, and agreements are near with Thorn-EMI, Warner Bros., RCA-Columbia, Vestron and Karl-Lorimar, Gwizdala said. …

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