DVD pirates threaten to kill fishing films

The spiralling trade in counterfeit DVDs could spell an end to the making of fishing films in the future. That’s the fear being voiced this week by several key players in the industry, who have been hit hard in the pocket by ruthless pirate operators selling cheap copies of their productions by the thousand.

Angling Times columnist Martin Bowler and celebrated wildlife cameraman Hugh Miles are currently locked in legal battles after finding their latest series, Catching the Impossible, is being copied and sold at vastly undercut prices on websites such as eBay. There have even been reports that some tackle shops have been selling fake DVDs from under the counter, with others turning up at car boot sales, and Martin firmly believes the industry could collapse if current trends continue.

“Within a week of bringing out a DVD, websites are full of people downloading it illegally. Ever-advancing computer technology is making it easier for people to rip off your work and it is going to cause the death of new material if it carries on. I plough my own money into making a lot of these creations and if I’m getting no return as a result of piracy then I’m going to have to stop making new angling content.”

Hugh Miles, who along with Martin spent more than four years producing the highly-acclaimed series, revealed how he is currently exploring all legal avenues to try to reduce the impact of the counterfeit gangs, some of which originate abroad.

“Piracy isn’t a game – it’s blatant stealing. We’re monitoring several sellers and have enlisted the help of Trading Standards and lawyers from the film industry. It has been going on for years and Passion for Angling was one of the worst affected.

We urge anybody who finds a seller of pirate copies to inform Trading Standards immediately,” said Hugh.

Another victim of pirate copies is leading tackle company Korda, which found huge success with its Underwater Carp Fishing series of six DVDs. Korda boss Danny Fairbrass revealed how he has been forced to take extra precautions to try to lessen the impact of the pirate operators.

“You have to find ways of beating the crooks, rather than stopping the production of new DVDs and punishing loyal customers. All our new releases are encoded to make it as hard as possible for them to be copied,” said Danny.

According to the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), DVD piracy costs the TV industry around £500 million a year in lost revenues, with more than two million fake DVDs seized by the authorities in 2009.