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Movie Industry Gains Leverage To Fight Piracy in New Digital Playing Field (Film Journal)

9 March 2016 – Studios were reluctant to release high-definition movies on optical discs unless HD players stopped playback of pirated content. A deal was made. The agreement required that all HD players detect the Cinavia watermark and stop the playback of stolen content. As a result, piracy is on the decline.

DVD and Blu-ray disc sales got a 10 percent lift in revenue in the U.S. and U.K when the titles had the invisible and inaudible Cinavia watermark embedded for both the theatrical and home video markets, according to an independent study released Thursday. It was commissioned by Verance, the company behind the technology, which prevents the viewing of illegally downloaded or filmed content.

The films’ revenue rose an additional one percent for every percentage point of Cinavia penetration on a country’s entertainment devices as well, the study found. It’s built into more than 250 million consumer devices worldwide, including Blu-ray Disc players, game consoles, digital media adapters, PCs and set-top boxes.

The results of the study were based on the top 75 movies in the U.S., UK, Spain, Germany and France from 2010-13, and the data gives the studios a handle on what they’re getting from the technology.

“This study represents the most powerful data the industry has seen to date about how losses due to piracy can be converted into revenue by using Verance’s Cinavia technology,” said Verance CEO Nil Shah.

Universal Pictures and Sony Pictures Entertainment were early adopters, and when 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros. came aboard, the motion picture industry standardized Cinavia in 2006. Some studios use it on virtually all of their releases, while other use it on films they fear will be particularly attractive to pirates.

The data should help Verance further make its case with the movie studios not only for upcoming film releases, but also on the ultra-high-definition technology seen as the future of home entertainment.

How much the movie industry loses to piracy is unclear, in part because the Motion Picture Association of America hasn’t released statistics since 2006, and also because it’s difficult to quantify. (It’s not clear, for example, that everyone who illegally downloads a movie would have bought it if they hadn’t.)

Given the proliferation of broadband connectivity and streaming and the explosion of foreign film industries, it’s a good bet that it has increased since then.

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