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CASBAA forms 'Coalition Against Piracy,' hires content protection veteran Neil Gane

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MUMBAI: CASBAA has announced the formation of the Coalition Against Piracy (CAP), a major initiative to coordinate industry resources in the fight against rampant content theft.

It has appointed Neil Gane, an industry veteran in content protection, as the general manager of CAP. Gane will direct CAP enforcement actions to disrupt, diminish and dismantle pirate enterprises across the region.

The CAP includes leading video content creators and distributors in Asia. Members are: beIN Sports, CASBAA, The Walt Disney Company, Fox Networks Group, HBO Asia, NBCUniversal, Premier League, Turner Asia-Pacific, A&E Networks, Astro, BBC Worldwide, Media Partners Asia, National Basketball Association, PCCW Media, Sony Pictures Television Networks Asia, True Visions, TV5MONDE, and Viacom International Media Networks.

CASBAA chief policy officer John Medeiros said, “One of CASBAA’s primary missions is to bring our members together to join the global fight against content theft. That’s what we are doing in establishing the CAP. CAP will focus on addressing the growing threat of illicit streaming devices (ISDs) and apps, which facilitate massive piracy of movies, sports, TV series and other creative video content. This does great harm to the content creation and distribution industries in Asia, as well as the millions of people who work in the creative economy around the world.”

Gane said, “The Asia Pacific region has some of the worst rates of online piracy in the world.” Formerly with the Hong Kong Police, he has worked on content protection issues for more than a dozen years. He noted that the unprecedented growth in delivery of legal creative content over global broadband networks is being undermined by a surge in the sale of TV boxes with pre-loaded infringing applications.

Online video and broadband distributions have the potential to be a massive economic growth engine in Asia with analysts forecasting market growth of more than 20 per cent over the next five years, benefiting consumers and creators of quality video content within Asia and around the world. But, this growth potential is threatened by piracy.

In the past two years, there have been many new roll-outs of online content services across the Asia Pacific region, by existing players as well as new ones. Unfortunately, the likelihood of success for legitimate online content suppliers is severely reduced by online access to pirated content, resulting in the expectation of many consumers to get “something for nothing.”

“The prevalence of ISDs across Asia is staggering. The criminals who operate the ISD networks and the pirate websites are profiting from the hard work of talented creators, seriously damaging the legitimate content ecosystem as well as exposing consumers to dangerous malware”, said Gane.

Medeiros said, “Current legal frameworks are not adequate to handle this newly-enabled crime.” “Consumers are offered huge content bundles from overseas as if they were legal. But, receiving stolen content is wrong, and the fundamental purpose of an ISD network – with an innocent-looking box as its home node – is to monetise this redistribution of content without any recompense to those who worked to produce it.”

“This is a highly organised transnational crime,” agreed Gane, “with criminal syndicates profiting enormously at the expense of consumers as well as content creators.”

Mitigating the piracy threat requires international cooperation, added Medeiros, and CASBAA has established CAP to provide added support for the content and distribution companies in the worldwide fight against piracy. CAP intends to join hands with similar initiatives underway in other parts of the world, including with the newly-formed Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) and in Europe where a separate coalition of broadcasters and content creators initiated by BBC and the Motion Picture Association has made great strides in information sharing and coordination.

CASBAA CEO Christopher Slaughter said, “We are excited about the launch of CAP in Asia to enhance collaboration between different segments of the industry – distributors, aggregators, and creators – and to complement the other country-specific and global initiatives in place and starting to show results. Collaboration is key and we look forward to the success of this new program.”

CAP will be launched officially at the forthcoming CASBAA Convention 2017, 6-8 November, at Studio City Macau, as a highlight of its robust policy and anti-piracy conference track.

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