Czech Start-up Addresses Film Piracy


    PRAGUE: Czech filmmakers hope the new project 31s will open up a new source of income from voluntary online payments for digital copies of their films.

    The initiative 31s, launched at the beginning of November 2013, gives online film audiences the opportunity to legally own and share digital copies of the films (including those already downloaded) and support the filmmakers and producers at the same time. The project, launched by producer Pepe Rafai from Shining Pictures production company, works in a similar way as illegal file sharing. The difference is that a viewer can pay for the downloaded content and thus watch and share it legally.

    The principle of the 31s service is the possibility to purchase a film by paying through the QR code placed at the beginning and end of the films distributed in the so-called pirate networks. Payment for licenses is via ILQ payment (ILQpay) and is up to the viewer, with a suggested price of 25 CZK. The process is the same worldwide, as it uses a combination of mobile phone and credit card VISA or MasterCard payments.

    “The project may mean a revolution in the field of copyright," Rafaj said. "The current concept is unsustainable, which confirms the growing gray zone of users who use pirated content, while they would often be willing to legalize their film library."

    Oscar winner Jan Svěrák, one of the main supporters, has already released three of his films to 31s: Jízda (The Ride), 1994, Tmavomodrý svět (Dark Blue World), 2001 and Vratné láhve (Empties), 2007. Among other sympathizers of the project are production companies Verbascum and Evolution Films as well as the National Film Archive. Currently there are only 10 films available on the site but 31s is encouraging other produces to join and at the same time negotiating with the BBC and other big studios to release their content as well. The visitors of the 31s site can also suggest the films they would like to see and pay for themselves through a wish list which is topped by Revival by Alice Nellis.