Film Board to address piracy
The Film Control Board will decide on dealing with new-release movies such as Disney's 'Mulan' being illegally sold in video stores.
That's according to the Chair of the Board, Moliei Simi Vaai, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration.
The issue follows a complaint made by the Apollo Cinemas which said it had paid hefty fees for the rights to display the movies exclusively within Samoa. Despite this, copies of new release movies such as Disney’s ‘Mulan’ have been openly advertised for sale in video and DVD shops in town, the Samoa Observer has seen.
“The matter will be before the Film Control Board in its next meeting," said Mrs. Vaai. "Only the Board can make a decision on this."
Earlier this month, the Apollo Cinemas made a report about the apparently unlawful renting out of newly released films.
The sale of the illegal copies had hurt the only local theatre’s attempts to return to business after they had to close due to state of emergency orders.
Live-action movies ‘Mulan’, released 5 September, and ‘Fatima’, released in August, have been sold in D.V.D. video stores for some time,despite the cinemas claiming exclusive rights to the title.
The Samoa Observer understands that two video stores have been investigated over the issue and had unauthorised copies of the movies confiscated by authorities. Each video had up to 12 copies of ‘Mulan’ alone.
Apollo Cinema spokesperson, Auree Westerlund, said for the meantime, they had been told by their Censor Board contact that D.V.D. stores had been warned that their license will be revoked if they continued to rent out the movies illegally.
"Even if [‘Mulan’] is released on  September, that is not the video store date, that's the release date of the movie theatre," she said.
"I know ‘Mulan’ is not doing so well overseas because they sold it to the Disney Channel. That [mobile application] does not work here; we've already tested the New Zealand and Australia [versions].
"So we would have still done well if it wasn't for the video stores and pirated copies online. But most of the people that posted online that they were watching Mulan at home [were watching a] D.V.D. store’s copy."
However, Ms. Westerlund said she was thankful for loyal customers who refused to buy the pirated copy of the movies.
Under the Film Control Act 1978, all films require a permit from the Ministry of Justice before they can be lent out or displayed in a movie theatre.
Failure to comply with the requirements of the Act can attract a fine of $1,000.