Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on August 13, 2009
The top lobbyist for the major Hollywood studios is hailing yesterday’s news that the World Trade Organization has ruled in favor of the U.S. government’s complaint against China’s restrictions on foreign films. After years of getting nowhere in China, the movie industry understandably is celebrating this WTO win: Dan Glickman, chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, called the ruling “a major victory” and said in a statement it “points a way forward that will begin to even the playing field in this important market.”
Maybe, but there’s still a long way to go before Hollywood can count on China as a big source of revenue. Glickman says the WTO ruling strikes down China’s film import monopoly as well as barriers that keep American companies from importing and distributing DVDs. Because of rampant piracy, though, there’s very little demand for imported DVDs, no matter who is distributing them. Likewise, the WTO ruling against China’s monopoly on film imports doesn’t do anything about the bigger problem, which is the 20-movie annual quota on foreign movies. As Glickman’s statement says in a succinct final sentence, “that restriction remains in place.”
For more on Glickman’s views about China, see this interview I did with him last year.