The future of UK anti-piracy organisation Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) is now in doubt after Hollywood's Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) announced that it will be withdrawing its support, meaning that the organisation will lose 50% of its funding.
The MPA represents the international interests of six major Hollywood studios and it has had a 30-year-long relationship with FACT to fight copyright infringement in various ways, including to prevent recordings in cinemas and distributing pirated content online.
However, that is set to end in six months, and as MPAA provides half of the organisation's budget, it will have to make do with the remaining 50% contributed by the UK Cinema Association, the Film Distributors' Association and broadcasters like ITV.
Stan McCoy, the MPAA's president and managing director for EMEA told movie trade magazine Screen Daily that the MPAA has withdrawn its funding from FACT as part of a wider strategy to refocus its operations into regional hubs, rather than specific territories.
MPAA changing how it deals with online pirates
Although McCoy praised FACT's work to protect against copyright infringement over the last three decades, he said that that the MPAA is having to change how it deals with piracy, since now there is a huge rise in online piracy, while physical copyright infringement has gone down.
"We live in a world now where a piracy website can have its nexus in Sweden one day, then move in a few months to Eastern Europe, then to Thailand, or it can operate in all three of those jurisdictions at once," he said.
It will be interesting to see if the loss in funding will affect how FACT tackles anti-piracy in the UK, especially in regards to its current rewards programme, which rewards cinema workers with cash payments of £1,000 each time they succeed in thwarting pirates – also known as "cammers" – during blockbuster season.
According to FACT, camming of movies remains the source of over 90% of all pirated films today. In 2015, there were 11 incidents reported by cinema staff, with 10 attended by the police. One incident led to two arrests, while formal cautions were given out at four incidents.