Movies amount for more than a third of illegal downloads by German computer users, putting the country in second place behind the US, according to a new study. But movie industry representatives say things are improving.
Looks just like the original
Bett oder Knast -- bed or jail -- is the choice a young woman gives to her boyfriend, who neglects her because he's spending all of his time illegally downloading movies from the Internet.
German movie goers have been chuckling about the spot for months now, but its creators find the problem anything but funny.
According to a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to be published Monday, illegal movie downloading is increasing faster in Europe than anywhere else: Of the eight countries with the highest number of movie pirates in 2003, six were in Europe, the International Herald Tribune reported. Germany came in second, behind the United States.
Between January and August 2003, about two million Germans illegally downloaded 13.3 million movies, causing damages worth hundreds of million euros to the movie industry.
"We really felt it last year," Johannes Klingsporn, the executive director of the Association of Film Distributors (VdF) told DW-WORLD.
Successful publicity campaign
But a campaign called "Web pirates are criminals," which is co-sponsored by the VdF as well as the Association of Movie Theaters (HDF) and the multiplex association Cineropa, has helped greatly to combat the problem, Klingsporn said.
Funded by the German Federal Film Board (FFA), the movie industry is using the publicity campaign to fight back. It's running spots in movie theatres and on television, distributing flyers and even putting up posters on the walls of bathrooms in restaurants and cafes.
A "Web pirates wanted" poster is part of the campaign
Starting in July, the campaign will also tour around Germany with a reconstructed jail cell to show people where they might end up if they download movies illegally.
A nationwide raid on 800 apartments in mid-March -- the biggest anywhere in the world so far, according to Klingsporn -- dealt a hard blow to Web pirates. It significantly reduced the amount of illegal downloads and increased video rentals at stores by up to 50 percent.
"The quality of pirated movies has worsened significantly," Klingsporn said. "We believe that we're on the right track."
Software piracy another problem
Meanwhile, another recent survey has showed that about 36 percent of software installed on computers worldwide in 2003 was pirated, representing a loss of about $29 billion (€23.4 billion) to companies.
The survey, conducted by research firm International Data Corp. for the Business Software Alliance (BSA), included a broader range of software than previous reports.
A pirated software program
The study found that while $80 billion worth of software was installed on computers worldwide last year, only $51 billion worth was legally purchased.
"Software piracy continues to be a major challenge for economies worldwide," said Robert Holleyman, president and chief executive of BSA.
Western Europe's percentage of illegally copied software was 36 percent, leading to losses of $9.6 billion. In North America, losses were pegged at $7.2 billion and the piracy rate was 23 percent, the survey found.
The losses were greatest in the United States with $6.5 billion. In Germany, the losses amounted to $1.9 billion.