Assemblyman Lavine: New Anti-Piracy Bill Increases Penalties, Protects New York’s Economy

July 1, 2008

(D-Glen Cove) Assemblyman Charles D. Lavine announced the Assembly passed legislation he supported to establish the Piracy Protection Act, a measure designed to stem the tide of piracy within the entertainment industry and protect the state’s economy by instituting stricter penalties for illegal recording activities (A.11184-A). The measure was offered by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

“New York City is the entertainment capital of the world, and so it follows, unfortunately, that it has also become the multimedia piracy capital of the world,” Assemblyman Lavine said. “The Piracy Protection Act will address the changing, growing nature of piracy by introducing stiffer penalties for criminals who illegally film movies, concerts and professional plays for burning onto DVDs and distribution on the black market.

“The vitality of the film, broadcast, music and theater industries is essential to the health of New York’s economy,” Assemblyman Lavine said, citing findings that the film and broadcast industries alone account for approximately 100,000 jobs in New York. “But piracy has been devastating the state’s economy, costing workers in the business and related service industries billions of dollars each year in lost earning and lost job opportunities.”

A report by the Institute for Policy Innovation found that motion picture piracy alone costs U.S. workers $5.5 billion in lost earnings each year, as well as 141,030 new jobs that without piracy would have been added to the U.S. economy. Motion picture piracy costs governments at all levels $837 million in lost tax revenue each year.

According to the Motion Picture Association of America, since 2007, 71 titles have been “camcorded” in New York from 19 different theaters. The PPA brings the existing illegal recording statute up to date by stepping up the penalties and expanding the crime to live theaters, such as concert halls and Broadway shows. New York City recently enacted a law making it a crime to illegally record such entertainment events, and the PPA would expand similar laws to the rest of the state.

“It’s absolutely critical that we crack down on those involved at all levels of pirating in the entertainment industry, and we’ll focus on those out there illegally recording movies and events,” Assemblyman Lavine said. “The camcorder operator is the first link in the criminal network, and it makes sense to cut the pirating industry off at its legs before it starts. A slap on the wrist will not stop this multi-billion dollar industry.”

In addition to setting up stricter penalties, the PPA would also facilitate the state attorney general’s ability to root out pirates operating in New York. The attorney general’s office will focus on coordinating investigations with various law enforcement agencies by appointing a special assistant attorney general to act as a liaison to oversee anti-piracy activities.

“Due to the tremendous economic harm resulting from piracy, New York must enact the Piracy Protection Act to improve its ability to deal with this major law enforcement problem,” Assemblyman Lavine said.