Too much money at stake
Developers who incorporate images from films or TV shows in their apps could soon find themselves in Hollywood’s firing line.
Time Warner, Walt Disney, Sony, Twentieth Century Fox and Viacom have all thrown their weight behind the battle to end illicit use of their clips and images, issuing “take down” notices to culprit app developers and store hosts.
The quickly expanding app market is reckoned to be worth around $20 million this year and Hollywood now see apps as a powerful way to engage audiences, sell games, merchandise and generally bolster income.
One recent rearguard action led to Time Warner sending Google a warning about an app titled ‘Hobbit 3D Wallpaper HD,’ in which the search giant was told either to remove it of face litigation for IP infringement. The app was removed days later.
Comcast’s NBC Universal studio is also said to have issued a notice of infringement on apps using images of its film ‘Ted.’
Apps containing images from movies such as ‘Clash of the Titans,’ ‘Spiderman’ and ‘Green Lantern’ have similarly been targeted.
“We’ve spoken with studios that represent several of the properties and they are now actively looking out for unlicensed mobile apps,” said Reggie Pierce, CEO of IP Lasso, which monitors branding on smartphones and other handheld devices.
He added that Lasso had recently surveyed more than 100 apps mentioning Oscars or the Academy Awards and found that 90 per cent were available on major app stores such as Google and Apple, even though they contained material that hadn’t been authorised by studios, TV networks or other creators.
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), meanwhile, says it is similarly expanding its surveillance of apps that link users to sites offering pirated films.
About 46 billion apps were downloaded last year generating $12 billion in worldwide revenues, according to research firm Research and Market. That number is expected to nearly double to 83 billion in 2013, generateing $20.4 billion.