Lu Chuan, “2009 Anti-piracy Image Ambassador”
The film Missing Gun, which premiered in 2001, Kekexili in 2004 as well as City of Life and Death, which earned hundreds of millions at the box office, made Director Lu Chuan well-known to the public. Generally, greater publicity and higher box office revenue leads to more serious piracy. As a director and producer at the same time, Lu Chuan feels the headache of piracy and also has deeper feelings.
During the Intellectual Property Publicity Week this year, Director Lu Chuan and the band Main Line, from the Taiwan region, were appointed by the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP), the National Copyright Administration (NCA) and the National Office of Anti-Pornography and Anti-Illegal Publication Campaign as “Anti-piracy Image Ambassadors”. To take advantage of this opportunity, China IP contacted Director Lu Chuan.
“The film market is much like a garden, where vegetables should belong to the planters. However, piracy makes it impossible for planters to get their harvest, because these ‘thieves’ have stolen the vegetables.” Lu Chuan told the reporter with a bitter smile.
China IP: You were appointed as the “Anti-piracy Image Ambassador” when the film City of Life and Death came out. Was it helpful at the box office?
Lu Chuan: I should admit that it was a “timely help”. This film was released on April 22 nationwide, but after only five days our inspectors throughout the country discovered the pirated version, which had already begun to spread. At that time, we reported to the NCA and other related departments via CCTV and they responded quickly. Documents were issued to protect our film and strict law enforcement was launched nationwide. Hundreds of thousands of pirated film discs were confiscated from a truck that was seized on the highway to Beijing, which was of great help in protecting the Beijing market. In other cities, such as Guangzhou and Shanghai, local governments also engaged in strong law enforcement. Consequently, the success of this black-and-white historical film, which earned a total of 180 million at the box office, could not have been achieved without the strict copyright law enforcement of the government.
China IP: Could you estimate the losses that would have been caused by piracy if there had been no timely governmental law enforcement?
Lu Chuan: If there had been no governmental law enforcement, I think the box office would have been reduced by tens of millions. We do not have specific figures. However, according to the projections of Mr. Han Sanping, Chairman of the China Film Group, if a best-selling film can earn 100 million at the box office, piracy will generally lead to 30 to 40 million in lost revenue. He also has another theory to explain why piracy cannot lead to a complete loss of profits on a film, which is that people who see films at the cinema can be differentiated from those that see films on DVDs. A large part of the first group will go to the cinema whether there is piracy or not. They will always go to the theater to see a movie and they are a guaranteed source of revenue at the box office.
China IP: The Taiwan band Main Line was also appointed as an “Anti-piracy Image Ambassador”. It can be said that you represent the film industry and they represent the music industry. Have you ever exchanged views on anti-piracy issues? What are your views on music piracy?
Lu Chuan: So far, we have had no exchanges. Still, I believe that we share the same opinion towards piracy: We all hate it very much and suffer a great deal from it. I think the effect of piracy to music is larger than that to the film industry, because network piracy is more destructive to music. The film industry can reclaim some expenses in the cinema line. In contrast, network music downloads can be found everywhere and users don’t have high requirements regarding quality, so music downloads are good enough to meet the demand.