Hong Kong film industry furious with YouTube

Filmmakers urge YouTube to do more to protect copyright, claim losses of US$308 million due to pirated movie clips on video-sharing site, report says.

The Hong Kong Motion Pictures Industry Association (MPIA) has accused video-sharing site YouTube of "severe" copyright infringements after it found over 500 illegally uploaded clips from 200 Hong Kong films including new releases, according to a report.

In an article Wednesday, AFP reported that Hong Kong filmmakers urged the Google-owned company to do more to protect copyright, and claim losses of US$308 million due to pirated movie clips on the site. The MPIA added that the videos had been viewed about 40 million times.

"This is a big blow to the Hong Kong film industry," MPIA chief executive Brian Chung told AFP. 

"If copyright infringement is allowed to continue, it will deter film investors from investing in local films and it will badly affect the quality and quantity of Hong Kong films," Chung added.

According to AFP, movie producers said the problem affected classics as well as new releases. 

The report pointed out that a romantic comedy, "Love in the Buff", was uploaded in its entirety on YouTube within days of its release last month. The video was removed after distributor Media Asia filed a complaint. 

It added that clips of award-winning "A Simple Life", which is still showing in Hong Kong cinemas, were also on YouTube, along with comedy-action film "Shaolin Soccer" and martial arts flick "Ip Man". 

"As the world's biggest video-sharing site, YouTube should ensure it will do all it can to protect copyrights, such as installing filters to prevent users from uploading copyrighted videos without permission" Chung said. 

This is not the first time YouTube has been involved in complaints over copyright. Last year, it reached a settlement with music publishers in the United States over material posted on the site--the terms of the agreement were not disclosed.