New Zealand’s booming movie industry is struggling to survive after its studios were hit by a wave of copyright-infringing digital piracy.
The film industry is in its fifth year of recession and has been hit by the digital onslaught, with studios having to shut down for weeks and even months due to the surge of new online streaming services and a growing number of online movies being uploaded to streaming sites.
In a letter to the ministry of the interior and attorney general, the movie industry has warned that the economic impact of piracy is “unprecedented”.
“In the past six months alone, the number of infringing films in New Zealand has quadrupled, with more than 300,000 movies downloaded,” the letter states.
“As a result of the increasing number of films uploaded to online streaming sites, the cost of the films is being passed on to consumers, and we have had to make drastic changes in order to keep pace with this.”
The letter also warns that the industry is facing the “greatest economic and financial challenges of all”.
The industry has had to close cinemas, close studios and put down all the staff as well as hire new staff to work in the film industry.
In some cases, the companies that had been operating as independent producers have had the ability to continue operating as studios, but with fewer staff and fewer resources.
“We are extremely concerned about the economic and fiscal impact of the increased piracy and the lack of a proper plan to prevent and combat it,” the company letter states, according to The New Zealand Herald.
In the letter, the industry says it has received more than 200 complaints about copyright infringement since February, of which nearly half are from New Zealanders.
However, the majority of the complaints were from New Zealander who believe they were targeted by pirates who stole their movies.
The letter is signed by three movie studios: Universal, MGM and Warner Brothers.
Universal Pictures said it was working with the ministry to identify those who are the victims of copyright infringement, and has promised to provide support for the affected parties.
The company said it would take the “necessary action” to identify the culprits.
The National Film Board (NFB) is responsible for regulating the movie business in New Zealand has been criticised for being slow to act.
According to the NFB’s website, its main functions include regulating movie distribution and licensing, regulating theatrical releases and determining which films should be screened in cinemas.
“The NFB is the primary agency responsible for protecting the public interest in New New Zealand.
Our main role is to ensure that all New Zealand films are produced in accordance with the law, including the Film Act, the Classification Act and the NFA,” the NFF said in a statement.
“In many cases, these issues are brought to our attention when a complaint is made, and the issues are resolved promptly.
However this does not always happen, and some complaints may be referred to the police.
We would like to stress that we are always looking for ways to address the issue, and have a working relationship with law enforcement agencies.”
Warner Brothers has not yet responded to a request for comment.
The NFB said in its letter to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern that the NFSU had been working with it to determine who is the victim of copyright infringements.
It also said the NFMB had received over 200 complaints of copyright theft from users and they were looking into these cases.