Hollywood mogul Avi Lerner called President Barack Obama a ‘coward’ for not being able to crack down on search engine giant Google over piracy. Lerner said, “It’s a major problem and it’s something that I don’t know if anyone can stop, because the government, the president, Congress are all scared of Google.”
Three weeks before its theatrical release date, The Expendables 3 was leaked online in a near perfect copy. According to Lerner, his production companies lost $250 million because of that leak which happened in July 2014. Within hours, it was downloaded around one hundred thousand times and over ten million copies were made according to Nu Image.
He said, ‘The government, the president, is such a coward. He’s scared of Google so we are losing millions.’
‘They should tell Google to stop piracy. They should make a law that anyone helping piracy — and not helping to stop piracy — should go to jail or get penalized or whatever.’
The 68-year-old film producer believes that the search engine has no reason to stop piracy unless forced because its advertising revenue comes from sources that are related to piracy. So in 2014, Google changed its algorithms to lower the rankings of piracy websites in searches, but many studio executives believe that Google has not gone far enough.
In 2012, Hollywood intensively lobbied for the creation of the Protect Intellectual Property Act and the Stop Online Piracy Act. The bills would hold websites hosted outside the United States to the same standards as those within the nation; but the big players in Silicon Valley including Google resisted action that they claimed would pave the way for authorities in the US to shut down websites without due process.
However, the two pieces of legislation were never signed into law because Google and Wikipedia led a wave of protests that denounces both as a threat to internet freedom and the US congressional leaders put the legislation on hold.
Eclectic Pictures founder Heidi Jo Markel said, ‘We have to protect our intellectual property or why are we doing this? Why be creative? Why put your blood and sweat and tears into writing a movie only to have it stolen?’
Markel who has worked with Lerner on several films called on the US to emulate Britain that she described to be much tougher on piracy.
She said, “The UK has got so good about punishing people for theft and we just sort of look the other way. We’ve got to change that.”