By Adam Pasick
The film industry is working to launch online movie download services
to avoid the same fate as the piracy-ridden music industry, NBC
Universal Chairman and Chief Executive Bob Wright said on Tuesday.
"It's something we have to do, but it has to be done well," Wright
said "These movies are so expensive we have to be careful ... We're
pretty close. Hopefully by the end of this year we'll be able to do
Wright was speaking at the launch of an anti-piracy and counterfeiting
initiative with senior executives from media, software, pharmaceutical
and food industries known as "Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting
and Piracy" (BASCAP).
Other participants included Microsoft's Chief Executive Steve Ballmer,
Nestle's Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, Vivendi Universal's Jean-Rene Fourtou
and EMI Group's Eric Nicoli.
"The problems are spreading and no one is immune," Wright said. "In my
business we're just looking over the shoulder of the music industry,
which has gone through a very difficult time."
The global music industry has been decimated by physical piracy and
online file-trading networks. It has stemmed some of the losses by
aggressively targeting illicit file-sharers with lawsuits while also
offering legal online alternatives like Apple's iTunes Music Store.
Movies are increasingly vulnerable to online piracy due to the spread
of high-speed Internet connections and file-sharing technologies like
BitTorrent. Eight people were charged last week for stealing a copy of
"Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith" and posting it online
before the movie appeared in theatres.
There are already at least two fledgling online movie stores:
Movielink, which is a venture of five major Hollywood studios, and
CinemaNow, which is jointly owned by Lions Gate Entertainment,
Microsoft, Blockbuster and several private equity firms.
Wright also spoke about the battle over next-generation DVD
technology. Universal Studios, a unit of NBC Universal, and Warner
Bros Studios have endorsed the HD DVD format, while Paramount, Sony
Pictures, Walt Disney Co. and Twentieth Century Fox have backed the
rival Blu-ray format.
"You'd always rather have one standard -- that's going to happen
eventually," he said. "Hopefully this won't go as far as (the)
Betamax-VHS (video tape format battle)."
Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.
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