MPAA Chairman and CEO Chris Dodd has called on US movie theatre owners to join the film industry trade body in speaking out against the threat of piracy, warning of “devastating” consequences if copyright law and respect for intellectual property continues to be undermined and unenforced.
Delivering a keynote speech at CinemaCon, the official convention of The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) in Las Vegas, Dodd said that Hollywood celebrated innovation through the world’s most cutting-edge content, and embraced technology as critical to the success of the creators in its community.
He nevertheless warned that “technology can be abused,especially by cybercriminals. Stopping content theft must be a top priority to all of us. Especially when you consider that in some instances blockbuster films have been downloaded illegally hundreds of thousands of times, harming not only the producers, but you, the exhibitors as well. The good news is that we are making progress, building inroads with tech companies, and working closely with ISPs, ad bureaus, payment processors and Internet hosting providers. And thanks to NATO and your vigilance, the incidence of illegal camcording in theatres is down 50 per cent since 2007.”
Notwithstanding such progress, he said it was understood that more work was needed. “Too many people still coat the pill of content theft in chocolate. Free speech, they say, gives them the right to consume and enjoy our content for free, that creative artists and ordinary working people spent years developing, producing and exhibiting. This fallacy must be aggressively challenged and countered by everyone in our industry. If we allow for two centuries of copyright law and respect for intellectual property to be undermined and unenforced, the consequences on innovation in this country, not just for Hollywood, film makers, studios and cinemas, but for our entire economy, will be devastating,” he warned.
“We, and you, must underscore the message that business, government, and ordinary citizens must work together to ensure that the Internet works for everyone, and that intellectual property is respected and protected,” he declared, suggesting that it was crucial for all to tell the story of the movie industry’s economic impact, including the communities where NATO members operated their theatres.
Among other initiatives, he suggested inviting local opinion leaders and political leaders to theatres to tell the industry’s story. “Tell them about the consequences of stealing our films. And why we want and need them to help us create an Internet that works for everyone, including the film industry. This should be easy for us. After all, we are all in the storytelling business. So today, I urge you to get involved. Speak up. Increase our industry’s voice on the issues that impact our ability to continue delivering cultural and economic value to your audiences and our customers,” he concluded.