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Europe Shut Down 845 Piracy Sites in 2016, MPAA’s Chris Dodd Says

Variety logo Variety 6/5/2017 Nick Vivarelli
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ROME – Chris Dodd, chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Assn. of America, praised European officials Monday for shutting down 845 illegal websites in 2016 that were providing pirated film and TV content across the European Union, which has long been considered a hotbed of piracy.

“In Europe we have been particularly successful at blocking access to large-scale pirate sites,” Dodd, who is Hollywood’s chief lobbyist, said of the work being done by the MPAA in tandem with E.U. authorities.

The former U.S. senator was the keynote speaker at a gathering in Rome where it was revealed that, last year, “more than one-third of Italians over the age of 15 engaged in some form of piracy,” Dodd said, citing figures from Italian anti-piracy organization Fapav.

The illegal activity caused economic damage worth an estimated 686 million euros ($692 million) to content creators and placed more than 6,000 local jobs in jeopardy, Fapav said.

Movie piracy was down 4% compared with 2010, but consumption of pirated TV series in Italy went up 9%, a study commissioned by Fapav showed.

Dodd praised Italy’s Guardia di Finanza police for shutting down 95 illegal sites in the country over the past three years, noting that “today there is a precedent for site-blocking in a total of more than 20 nations in the European Community.”

He called the people behind the sites “major criminal enterprises who are involved in malware, in identity theft and financial theft.” “These are not people who want to make films available to people,” he said.

Dodd also said there are now 480 sites worldwide that legally offer film and TV content on demand.

The MPAA chief underlined that law enforcement was only one part of the anti-piracy effort. Another important aspect is a greater public awareness of its devastating economic effect.

“We clearly need to do a better job of  demonstrating that this is a serious threat to the health of the European creative sector, a sector that generates more than $914 billion in economic activity and employs almost 11 million people in the 28 countries that make up the European Union,” he said.

Dodd, who will be stepping down later this year this from the post he has held since 2011, has made the fight against piracy a cornerstone of his tenure, lobbying in the U.S. for a major piece of anti-piracy legislation, called the Stop Online Piracy Act, which was eventually shelved. MPAA-filed lawsuits led to the closure in 2015 of popular torrent sites Popcorn Time and YTS in Canada and Zealand, and have contributed to action against other major sites, including MegaUpload and KickAssTorrents.

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