Film Piracy In The UK

FDA strategy to safeguard film in the UK

As the trade body championing the generic interests of theatrical distributors, FDA has a constantly evolving strategy to make it as hard as possible for film theft to originate ans propagate in the UK. It is estimated that the audio-visual sector loses around £0.5 billion a year to all forms of copyright theft (digital and physical).

Context: The UK is one of the world's leading markets for filmed entertainment. UK cinemas, which show English-language prints increasingly released day & date or UK-first, are particularly vulnerable to camcording.

FDA's local programme to deter camcording and piracy enjoys widespread support and co-operation.

Impact: Self-evidently there is constant vulnerability in the sector, but we believe that this programme – facilitated by FDA on behalf of its member companies and implemented largely by or with the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) – has in recent years made a substantial and measurable difference to reducing film theft via recordings in UK cinemas.


Our trade strategy includes:

  • Dedicated investigator: We sponsor fully the post of a FACT investigator dedicated to the theatrical sector. Duties include exhibitor staff training and on-site briefings, and building relationships with local police forces about film theft in cinemas.

  • Technology deterrence: We support cinema staff UK-wide by purchasing and supplying night vision devices. We maintain a watching brief on other technologies and systems as they emerge. Vulnerable Release Alerts are emailed to cinemas flagging up UK-first or day & date (simultaneous) openings.

  • Rewards scheme: We sponsor a programme to incentivise heightened vigilance by cinema staff, aiming to deter and disrupt camcording attempts.


Our communications includes:

  • 20'' pre-film messages in cinemas: In 2011, we worked with student filmmakers from the National Film & Television School (of which FDA is a sponsor) to create a new campaign aiming to reduce film theft in the UK. The atmospheric new spot imagines a near-future world in which unchecked film piracy has brought about the very last cinema showing – and we see the audience disappear before our very eyes. Just imagine... The spot ends with the familiar logo of Crimestoppers, an independent charity that feeds information related to all forms of film piracy to FACT. FDA uses the Crimestoppers logo under a bespoke license agreement struck in 2009.

  • Teaching resources for primary schools: We have commissioned Film Education to produce innovative teaching packs for primary schools, enabling teachers of 8–11 year-olds (key stage 2) to raise appropriately framed questions about the general concept of 'copyright'. Is it a good thing or a bad thing? What might be the consequences for creators and audiences if it didn’t exist?


Joined-up industry activity
In addition to this theatrical programme, FDA is a member of, or participant in, a range of UK bodies and initiatives, each concerned with key aspects of safeguarding intellectual property. These bodies include FACT, Industry Trust for IP Awareness, the Alliance Against IP Theft and (since 2010) the Creative Coalition Campaign.