Aspiring filmmakers urged to get serious about piracy

Lori Flekser, Executive Director of the IP Awareness Foundation, delivered a sobering message to tomorrow’s filmmakers this week.

On Wednesday Flekser, whose foundation is dedicated to educating people about the value of screen content, gave a presentation on online piracy to VCA students in Melbourne.

Some asked whether she thought the distribution landscape will have changed to the point they will be able to monetize their content via digital distribution avenues by the time they are ready to get behind the camera.

Her response was no. “I think the outlook for tomorrow’s filmmakers will be even more challenging,” she explains. “With fragmentation from all these over-the-top services, licence fees paid by VOD and SVOD platforms will drop and filmmakers will be even more reliant on cinemas.

"The market for middle-range films has gone and we are losing a generation of young cinemagoers."

The screen industry veteran also advised budding filmmakers to be more mindful of the impact of piracy on the production, distribution and exhibition sectors.

When she addresses forums of film students and filmmakers on behalf of the foundation, which reps a broad section of film and TV organisations,  she no longer asks the question, “Do you pirate content?”

The reason: “The answers make me very depressed. I think the majority of film students and filmmakers do pirate material and they don’t go to the cinema.”

Flekser made a similar presentation that evening at a forum for Open Channel members. She presented new research by the agency House of Brands on the top five reasons people cite for pirating content.

They are: It’s free. It’s quick and easy to use. I don’t want to wait too long for legal TV shows and movies to be released. The TV shows and movies I want aren't available legally in Australia, or they are too expensive. 

However Flekser is confident that consumer behaviour will start to change as a result of two measures by the federal government and court action by the owners of Dallas Buyers Club.

Recently passed legislation  will allow rights holders to go the Federal Court to seek orders to block overseas websites like The Pirate Bay, whose primary purpose is to facilitate access to pirated material.

A copyright infringement notice scheme, due to be introduced in September, will entail ISPs  sending up to three written warnings to email accounts suspected of flagrantly downloading content illegally.

The Dallas Buyers Club owners intend to seek compensation,  amounts to be determined, from several thousand Australians accused of illegally downloading the film.

The combination of those measures encourages Flekser to believe “we are reaching a tipping point on changing behaviour."