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Hollywood Uses Police Around World as Private Enforcers

By Jon Newton TechNewsWorld ECT News Network
Aug 11, 2004 6:00 AM PT

At 5 a.m., German police kicked in the front door of the modest apartment house in working-class Essen and, guns drawn, ordered an unsuspecting family out of bed. Then they hauled off a 22-year-old college student as his stunned parents watched.

Hollywood Uses Police Around World as Private Enforcers

The intro is from a Boston Globe story that continues: "This wasn't a scene from a big-screen police thriller. But it had Hollywood's fingerprints all over it."

Hollywood -- the catch-all for the entertainment industry in all its shapes and guises and its many and various "trade" organizations -- routinely uses genuine international police and enforcement agencies as unpaid labor, backed up by pseudo movie and record industry police who do their best to look and act like the real thing. And they play their roles admirably because many, if not most, of them were once real police officers.

What these incidents are is a raid on pirated Hollywood entertainment.

This goes on all over the world from Asia to Australia to the US of A. It's the way the entertainment industry tries to make absolutely sure its movie and music enterprises remain the multibillion-dollar concerns that they are today, loud complaints to the contrary notwithstanding.

Never a Murmer

It's an appalling reality, but there's never a murmur from the administrations in the countries involved, or from the taxpayers whose money pays for the police forces suborned by the entertainment industry.

Using the Motion Picture Association of America and Recording Industry Association of America and other organizations around the world as its fronts, Hollywood does more or less what it wants everywhere.

The German incident came about through the efforts of the German Anti-Piracy Federation, "a private investigating organization funded by U.S. studios, German independent film companies, and electronics firms [that] worked with law enforcement to stage the March raid on 800 locations across Germany," as the Globe says, also pointing out that the MPAA has helped bankroll 57 antipiracy organizations around the world that are doing the investigative legwork most law-enforcement agencies consider too low a priority to pursue on their own.

The MPAA won't divulge the size of its investment in the groups, the story adds.

Operating Expense

That's because the "investment" would be better described as an operating expense.

The entertainment industry owns and funds it all. It tells the groups what to do and when to do it. And through these so-called trade organizations and through high-echelon supporters around the world, backed by minions working in the shadows, persuades, cajoles, bribes, schmoozes people in publicly funded organizations and international administrations into doing its dirty work.

It also controls the mainstream media so its message is the one that's heard most loudly and most often.

But it's not only Germany.

"Mexican police were involved in violent clashes with criminal gangs in Mexico City's notorious Tepito market in a raid which netted hundreds of thousands of discs and equipment along with firearms and illegal drugs," brags Hollywood's International Federation of Phonographic Industries.

Hollywood's Interests

And in Peru, "A huge seizure...involving 1,000 police officers netted no fewer than 1 million burned CD-R discs in the famous 'Hueco' flea market. During the operation, over 400 stands were raided and 10 people were arrested."

It's almost as if the police forces around the world don't have anything better to do than to look after Hollywood's interests.

But Hollywood's bottom line is also its Achilles heel.

The record industry is far from being in dire straits, as it claims, but thanks to the advent of the Internet and, through it, P2P and other forms of instant communication, for the first time in its history, it's completely lost control over the people who make up what used to be called its "consumer bases."

Standing in Line

In the 21st century, "consumers" are well on their way to forcing Big Music to dance to their tunes. And the same thing is starting to happen to the movie studios.

In the last century, the entertainment industry way was the only way. But this is 2004 -- the first decade of the digital age -- and Hollywood now has to stand in line.

More to come, as they say in medialand.

Jon Newton, a TechNewsWorld columnist, founded and runs, a daily peer-to-peer and digital media news site focused on issues surrounding file-sharing, the entertainment industry and distributed computing. p2pnet is based in Canada where sharing music online is legal.

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