When creative people produce something with commercial value, they must be able to protect their rights to the product.   

People who work in the entertainment industry are particularly vulnerable to having the content of their products stolen. As Sabrina pointed out recently, Brad Pitt isn’t going to go to the poor house because of online piracy of movie content.

Unfortunately, the legions of less visible people who work with scouting, developing scripts, and other facets of producing a movie can face hardship if somebody infringes upon their rights to what they have created. Carrie Lukas highlights the importance of protecting intellectual property rights in IWF's forthcoming book "Women on the Brink Of Unprecedented Opportunities."

For a society to remain innovative, Carrie notes, the rights of the innovators must be protected. This doesn't just apply to the movies. Any industry that spends a lot of money developing a product will either benefit from that expenditure or cease making the investment.

With this in mind, we were pleased to learn that the Center for Copyright Information (CCI), an organization representing owners of copyrighted entertainment content and five major Internet service providers, has issued a report, “Phase One and Beyond,” on its Copyright Alert System (CAS).  

The CAS is a voluntary system of sending out alerts when instances of copyright infringement are detected. The good news is that is appears to be doing its job.  The CCI reports that more than 1.3 million Copyright Alerts have been sent to account holders in the last ten months and that it expects to double the number in the coming year.

Also significant, the CCI reports that the majority—70 percent—of these alerts were sent when the misuse of copyrighted material was in the initial stages, thus cutting down on the harm done.

Most people, the report suggests, don’t want to steal somebody else’s work product and will willingly stop if notified:

The majority of users surveyed reported that they would stop engaging in copyright infringement immediately upon receiving an Alert and most (62%) believe that it is never acceptable to engage in infringing activity. However, sixty-five percent of the respondents agree that it would be helpful if more resources were available that make clear what content sources and online activities are and are not legal.

In light of this research and our observations about the CAS, CCI also announced the beginning of awareness raising activities including launching an online advertising campaign about the existence of the program – and both Alerts and the CCI’s web resources will continue to direct consumers to the innovative sources of legal and licensed music, movie and TV content. 

This is very good news for inhabitants of modern day Grubb Street and anybody else who relies on creative endeavors or scientific research to develop new products. It is also good news for honest people who would never knowingly steal another’s work and are glad to know when they have done so unintentionally.