Crime syndicates more involved in film piracy: report

Tue Mar 3, 2009 3:26am EST
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By Gregg Kilday

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Organized crime is taking on a larger role in film piracy, according to a new report from the RAND Corp. being released Tuesday.

And though it could point to only a handful of examples where the profits from piracy have been used to support terrorist activities, the report warns that the terrorist connection could increase in the future.

Crime syndicates have become involved in the entire supply chain of illegal films, from their manufacture to their street sales, as piracy takes its place alongside such criminal activities as drug trafficking, money laundering, extortion and human smuggling.

"Given the enormous profit margins, it's no surprise that organized crime has moved into film piracy," said Greg Treverton, the report's lead author and director of RAND's Center for Global Risk and Security. "The profits are high, and penalties for being caught are relatively low."

Raising the prospect that piracy also could become a threat to homeland security, Treverton said, "If you buy pirated DVDs, there is a good chance that at least part of the money will go to organized crime and those proceeds fund more-dangerous criminal activities, possibly terrorism."

The report from the nonprofit research center was supported by a grant from the Motion Picture Association (the international arm of the Motion Picture Association of America), which estimates that the worldwide motion picture industry loses as much as $18.2 billion annually because of piracy.


The RAND researchers documented 14 case studies of film piracy -- throughout North America, Europe, South America, Russia and Asia -- where organized crime was part of the picture.   Continued...

<p>A customer looks at pirated CDs and DVDs on display at a marketplace in Asuncion, a day before the country holds presidential elections, April 19, 2008. REUTERS/Enrique Marcarian</p>