Winning the IP Hearts and Minds

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From Variety (yes, I guess I’m reading Variety these days):

Yang Tingting, a 21-year-old student from the Beijing U. of Aeronautics and Astronautics, has won a short film competition about respecting copyright issues run by the MPA, the organizers of the 15th Beijing Student Film Festival and the China Film Copyright Protection Assn.

Entries were judged on impact, clarity of message, creativity, originality and entertainment value.

Her flash animation "I Want to Buy Legitimate" features three store owners who only sell pirated DVDs, forcing the customer to wonder whether "I want to buy pirate?"

Yang’s winning production earns her a trip to Hollywood to visit the MPA’s head office and member company film studios.

Second prize went to Lü Yan, 21; and Ji Piling, 22; both from Xiamen U., and  Yu Chuansong, 22, from Beijing Normal U.

A Special Creativity award was given to Yu Xiang, 24, from the Beijing Film Academy and five entries more received encouragement awards.

The contest was open to students at more than 300 universities throughout China and challenged filmmakers to take a fresh look at the value of intellectual property to society and to individuals.

"I am gratified to know that young people are taking responsibility for themselves in the fight against piracy. This is one competition that makes them appreciate the value of creative thinking and recognize the consequences of piracy," said Mike Ellis, MPA prexy and managing director, Asia-Pacific.

Just at the outset, I want to remind everyone that I am an IP lawyer, I have represented members of the MPA, and that I support the general goals of the MPA. I also have a lot of sympathy for what that industry has gone through in the age of digital media.

All of that being said, this whole PR campaign, which I first heard about last year, seems pretty weak. I am traditionally skeptical of "education" campaign that try to teach kids (and adults, I suppose) that piracy is bad. The idea is that through education, kids will stop downloading movies for free.

I am not the first one to point out that human beings what they are, if they can get away with downloading a movie for free, they will do so. If the individual is a kid with little spending money, then it’s a slam-dunk certainty. It has nothing to do with knowing right from wrong, good from evil, or even what the law says. I think most people in this day and age understand that when they download a movie for free, they are getting away with something.

For me, this is why I support stronger criminal and administrative penalties. Enforcement is, in my opinion, the only way to stop this kind of thing. Winning the hearts and minds of those good-natured kids out there is not going to work, and the industry looks kind of foolish trying.