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New York introduces anti-piracy bill

NEW YORK — New York state wants to shake its status as the nation’s film piracy capital and set an example for the rest of the country.

The state would expand and boost penalties for multimedia pirates in a new bill supported by members of both parties.

Tina Fey, NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker and MPAA chairman Dan Glickman joined New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and New York State legislators here Monday morning in unveiling the proposal for what is dubbed the “Piracy Protection Act.”

The legislation, which the politicians hope to pass before the summer, would “combat the creation, distribution and sale of illegally recorded movies in New York State.”

The AG’s office cited recent industry reports that say that more than 50% of all illegally recorded movies are filmed in New York and then distributed around the nation.

But New York currently goes only after people who illegally record films (rather than people involved throughout the piracy process), and only with a small violation fee of $250.

Cuomo said this makes the penalty comparable to a parking ticket, even though piracy costs New York state tens of thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenue per year. To press his point, he held up a pirate DVD of “Iron Man,” which opened this weekend but is already illegally available in the streets of Manhattan.

Under the proposed bill, first-time offenders would face up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Offenses would be elevated from violation status to a Class A misdemeanor. Repeat offenders would be charged with a felony, which carries higher penalties.

“New York is the entertainment capital of the world,” a justification statement presented by Cuomo said. “Especially in these difficult economic times, New York depends on a vibrant and flourishing entertainment industry.”

Zucker and Glickman expressed hope that once the New York bill passes, its supporters can push the federal government to follow suit with enhanced anti-piracy laws.

“This act of leadership is a model for modern law enforcement nationwide,” Zucker said.

Source: Hollywood Reporter