MPAA chief condemns movie ‘looting’

In his first Washington address since becoming Chairman/CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), Senator Chris Dodd has described illegally acquiring movie content as “looting”.

In an address to the Media Institute, Dodd said that in the seven weeks since he joined the MPAA, he had learned a great deal about the American film industry, “how important it is to the American economy, how many hard working people bring the creative visions of this profession and industry to life; how much of an opportunity there is for the film industry to grow and prosper in the future; and lastly how fragile that prosperity can be if we don’t protect the content of the film product.”

He pointed out that when people discuss the film industry, too many believe that the only people affected by content theft or other issues that undermine this profession are the ones whose names appear on theatre marquees, and that it was essential that more people understood that threats to the content of the film industry are direct threats to those hard working middle-class families, as well.

“One such threat stands apart from all the rest,” he asserted. “You can call it what you want: piracy, IP theft, content theft—frankly, I call it looting. When one person breaks the window of a jewellery store and walks away with a handful of rings and bracelets, that’s called a burglary. When millions of people hijack and steal a product like Rio, I call that looting. And that’s exactly what’s happening at this very hour we are gathered here, and it is in our collective interests to join together in common efforts to stop it,” he declared.

He said it was foolish to suggest that only the well-heeled who were affected by such actions. “When you rob a movie, you rob from many who deserve better. No matter how good your business model is, no business can compete with free.”

He pointed out that nearly one-quarter of the bandwidth on the global Internet is used to traffic stolen content. “That’s a lot of stolen movies. Americans need to understand—we need to help them understand—that when you steal a movie, you’re not just stealing from the big-name celebrities whose faces you know. You’re stealing from the middle-class people whose families rely on this industry to make ends meet and build a better future for themselves. You’re also stealing from the teenager working his or her first job taking tickets at the local movie theatre, and from the small business owner leasing cars to the movie crew on location in his town.”

He described the “looting” as the single greatest threat to the 2.4 million people who work in the industry. “It is doing harm, not only to those of us in film and television, but to those who make their living producing music, software, pharmaceuticals, and a wide range of commercial goods as well. And it’s time that industry and government join forces to stop it. We need to crack down on the rogue websites that traffic in stolen goods. And we need companies that work with those sites to stop doing so.”

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