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Hong Kong Movie Industry Takes on YouTube

2012-05-03 08:52:29        Chinese Films

A still from Hong Kong movie 'Love in the Buff."

When it comes to copyright infringements, America's traditionally pointed its finger at Asia, especially China. But this time, the finger-wagging is going the other way.

This week, Hong Kong's movie industry made no secret of its outrage over how the city's movies—long one of its proudest cultural exports—are the subject of widespread piracy on YouTube, the U.S. video sharing website.

According to a Hong Kong Motion Picture Industry Association member survey, clips from over 200 Hong Kong movies have been found on the popular video-streaming site, including some new releases that are still being screened in local theaters. More than half of these movies were available in full-length form on YouTube, says Brian Chung, MPIA's CEO and a former screenwriter—though others were split into consecutive clips, which in one case had over 100 installments. Popular hits available online included Hong Kong Film Award winner "A Simple Life," as well as romantic comedy "Love in the Buff" (both are still in theaters), as well as various flicks starring Bruce Lee, Hong Kong's homegrown martial-arts actor. Collectively, such clips garnered views in excess of over 40 million.

"Our members are so angry about this," says Mr. Chung, adding that each view could be a potential movie ticket sale loss.

These losses come at a time when Hong Kong's traditionally vibrant movie industry is already faltering. While its auteurs left their cultural stamp across generations of moviegoers during their heyday in the 80s, the industry has since slumped as viewers have gravitated toward Hollywood and the production of regional rivals, including South Korea and Japan. From 2000 to 2006 alone, the number of films produced in Hong Kong dropped by over 40%.

Media Asia Films, which produced "Love in the Buff," says YouTube's system for taking down videos is too slow and unresponsive. "We tried to click the infringement icon on YouTube," says Regina Li, senior administrative officer for the company's legal department. "We clicked it many times." By the time YouTube took down the full-length version of the film that a user had posted online, the pirated film had already been viewed over 180,000 times, said Ms. Li.

By: The Wall Street Journey

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