Conference Addresses Content Protection and Piracy

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From left: Douglas Lichtman, Betsy Zedek, Rebecca Borden, Steve Kang and Karen Thorland.

The Ziffren Institute for Media, Entertainment, Technology and Sports Law brought together leaders from film, television and government for a Ziffren In-DC conference titled "The Future of Content Protection" in October 2019. Top executives, producers and attorneys addressed the challenges and opportunities arising as piracy continues to erode bottom lines and new content platforms change the economics of the industry.

The half-day event featured a fireside chat between Viet Dinh, Chief Legal and Policy Officer at Fox Corporation, and Brian Benczkowski, Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department. The two focused on laws governing distribution and enforcement related to piracy.

A high-profile panel of creators included Gale Anne Hurd, producer of The Terminator, Aliens, and The Walking Dead; Chris Brancato, creator of Netflix's Narcos; and Nina Sadowsky, author of The Fall, executive producer of The Wedding Planner and program director for NYU Los Angeles. The panelists emphasized the importance of strong copyright protection in making it economically viable for creators to continue to develop material. Hurd also highlighted the ancillary economic benefits of television and film production, noting that The Walking Dead created a boon in business and tourism for the small town in Georgia that hosted the show.

In the final panel of the day, studio attorneys and executives addressed the difficulty of slowing piracy once it begins, including challenges with the notice and takedown process outlined under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Panelists included UCLA Law Professor Douglas Lichtman; CBS Senior Vice President and Associate General Counsel Rebecca Borden; NBCUniversal Vice President, Creative Content Protection Steve Kang; and The Walt Disney Company Principal Counsel for Antipiracy Betsy Zedek. Karen Thorland '94, the Motion Picture Association's Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, moderated the discussion.