Oscar-Winning Director Sues Czech File-Hosting Site for Breach of Copyright

Sep 23 2011 - 13:32

Czech film director Jan Svěrák has recently filed a copyright infringement suit against Czech file-hosting website sharerapid.cz, which offered unauthorized download of his latest movie “Kooky”. The director is demanding compensation totaling EUR 21,740 (USD 29,738).

Svěrák, who won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1996 for his movie “Kolya”, is demanding EUR 10,870 (USD 14,869) in damages from the Czech firm Sharerapid a.s and the same amount from Jaroslav Urban, president of the US-based company Sharerapid Inc, which owns Sharerapid a.s. Svěrák’s lawyer František Vyskočil explained that this amount was based on the number of times the film “Kooky” was downloaded from sharerapid.cz (approximately 13,000 times), as well as the estimated loss in box office earnings.

The suit also stresses that, in addition to providing unauthorized downloading of the movie, the website owners also profited from it. The subscription to the website ranges from EUR 8 (USD 11) per month for “downloads with guaranteed maximum speed” to EUR 243 (USD 332) per year. “This film cost EUR 1.62 million (USD 2.2 million) to make and so far the return has been EUR 1.22 million (USD 1.67 million). It is therefore absurd that the creators make a loss from the film, whereas some stranger is making a profit from it. It’s theft,” Svěrák told the Czech weekly Ekonom.

The Czech Pirate Party is opposing Svěrák’s suit, arguing that the current copyright laws are not adequate in an era of the Internet. “The authors themselves should realize that according to many studies Internet pirates are the best customers of the music and film industry. In our view, after the release of the film in cinemas, the author [Svěrák] should make the film available for download from his web pages and enable straight-forward and, first and foremost, direct payment to his account,” stated Jaroslav Kučera from the Czech Pirate Party.

The Czech Pirate Party has recently launched movie-downloading websites in support of a 16-year-old boy from the northern Czech city of Liberec charged with copyright infringement for providing links to approximately 3,300 movies and serials on his website.

The Czech Anti-Piracy Union estimates that in 2010 Czech filmmakers lost approximately EUR 41 million (USD 56 million) in lost DVD sales, revenues from legal downloads and unsold cinema tickets due to piracy.

Vyskočil said that the judicial proceedings are expected to start this fall. Despite the fact that the trial has not begun yet, the Municipal Court in Prague has already ordered sharerapid.cz to remove the film “Kooky” from its list of films until the case is resolved.

For more information, please contact Aleksandra Pavlovic at our Macedonia office.

Source: Czech Position online news portal

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