While the lack of up to date data on the overall impact of film theft on the industry remains a frustration (the last reliable figures dating from 2011, when financial losses to the UK cinema sector were calculated at some £216 million or 21 per cent of annual box office) there remains no lack of determination on the part of UK cinema operators to play their part in the fight against film theft.

Film theft means that those whose talents and efforts went into making the film go unrewarded and therefore has a direct impact on the quality and quantity of films likely to be produced in the future.

There is also strong evidence linking those who traffic in stolen films with other aspects of organised crime including drug-dealing, people trafficking and pornography.

Recognising the central role that films recorded in cinema theatres play in driving this trade, the Association and its members have undertaken a great deal of activity to tackle this issue, ensuring that theatre staff are provided with training on what to look for and what to do if they find someone illegally recording a film in a theatre.

As a result, the UK sector is now recognised as one of the most secure in the world, with a series of prosecutions under the Fraud Act 2006 sending out a strong signal as to the seriousness with which the courts view such crime.

The Association works with a range of partners on film theft-related issues. These include:

  • supporting the work of the Film Content Protection Agency (FCPA), which provides training and guidance to staff on tackling illegal recording activity, supported by the Film Distributors’ Association;
  • supporting the work of the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), which gathers intelligence and undertakes investigations and prosecutions;
  • supporting the work of the Industry Trust for IP Awareness in raising awareness of the impact of film theft on the film industry.

The Association strongly encourages anyone who witnesses film theft – or has suspicions that it is taking place – to contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.