If the MPAA was less diplomatic, it might have headlined its response to the Obama administration’s latest anti-piracy initiative, “Are You Kidding Me?” Even without the direct language, the studio lobby made it clear that it believes U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel served up thin gruel yesterday when she teamed with tech companies to promote voluntary best practices to reduce the flow of ad dollars to sites that traffic in pirated content. MPAA chief Chris Dodd called it “an incremental step forward that addresses only a narrow subset of the problem” and places “disproportionate amount of the burden on rights holders”. The response was a bit of a surprise: Just last month the MPAA praised the administration when it released its Joint Strategic Plan On Intellectual Property Enforcement, which called for voluntary initiatives to fight piracy. That was far less than Hollywood wanted last year when it lobbied Congress to pass tough anti-piracy legislation.
WASHINGTON-Today, the Motion Picture Association of America, Inc (MPAA) announced the launch of www.WheretoWatch.org, a new website that will serve as a resource for audiences to access movies and TV shows seamlessly and legally. Today’s media landscape offers audiences the opportunity to watch movies and television shows in more ways than ever before, an environment created in part through a copyright system that empowers creativity and promotes innovation.
The analysis comes from NATO‘s John Fithian after he was asked at a press meeting why Hollywood produces so many R-rated films — despite the evidence he presented this morning showing that family friendly films typically fare better at the box office. “It’s cool to be Quentin Tarantino,” he says. While lauding the the First Amendment, giving filmmakers the right to produce what they will, he says that there’s “often a little bit of a difference between the movie-making philosophy and the exhibition philosophy” about what sells. MPAA‘s Chris Dodd says that they aren’t that far apart. For the major studios he represents “less than 50% of our product is R-rated.” Still, he noted that the cost of producing a G-rated film “can be higher than an R-rated movie.” But he didn’t bite when asked whether films are too violent. ”Our job isn’t to be movie critics,” he says. The execs added that they didn’t think that Hollywood has become too focused on making movies for overseas markets vs domestic. “Movies that are made overseas work domestically too,” Fithian says. “Our companies operate across national lines” notably since China’s Wanda Group bought AMC Entertainment and Cinemark has become a major exhibitor in …
The film industry’s two chief lobbyists stayed on message at a brief press conference this afternoon that mostly dealt with the movie ratings initiative introduced this morning. The effort to clarify the reasons why a film has a particular rating, and to keep movie trailers in sync with the film that follows, is “terribly, terribly important,” MPAA’s Chris Dodd says. The box that describes a film’s content is better than the current version because “you don’t have to squint to read it.” And the effort to match trailers with films will avoid “a lot of confusion.” NATO’s John Fithian added that his board’s unanimous support for the new system — and an agreement to run ads promoting it — is a big deal because “you’re asking business people to give up millions of dollars to do the right thing.” Is this a response to last year’s school shootings in Sandy Hook, and those who say that excessively gruesome films help to desensitize people — including impressionable kids — to violence? Not exactly, they said. Hollywood has been “constantly engaged with the parenting public,” Dodd says. “We said from the very beginning that we’re willing to be part of the conversation.”
This is a taller order than the former Senator might realize: Theater owners are notoriously press shy. Still, he told CinemaCon attendees today that “it’s crucial for all of us to tell the story of our industry’s impact” on jobs and culture. “Nobody can make a better case (locally) than you….Tell them about the consequences of stealing our films. This should be easy for us. After all, we are all in the story-telling business.” The Hollywood lobby group suffered a humiliating setback last year when it lost an effort to persuade Congress to adopt anti-piracy policies that were largely opposed by the technology community. Still, Dodd says he’s “determined to do everything on my watch to be sure the momentum continues” to combat piracy. Studios and tech companies “have more in common than a lot of people realize,” the MPAA chief told the theater execs. “You in this room have embraced technology …Stopping content theft must be a top priority for everyone in this business.”
He added that they’re making progress: Incidence of illegal camcorder use in theaters is down 50% from 2007. Dodd cited the MPAA’s effort to demonstrate that 99% of the jobs it hopes to save involve ordinary people, not just high-paid actors, directors and moguls. The MPAA has a website, TheCredits.org, that draws attention to people who work behind the …
It’s a familiar message for the MPAA chairman. But it’s noteworthy because he delivered it today to the National Press Club in Washington DC, where the trade organization hopes to revive interest in copyright protection following the collapse last year of its effort to persuade Congress to pass tough rules to limit Internet piracy. Using this year’s Oscar-nominated films as examples of “stories that help us make sense of the world — and ourselves,” Chris Dodd called for strong intellectual property and copyright laws to protect such content. “These collaborations generate more than just social and cultural dividends, but economic ones as well — here in the U.S. and abroad”, he said in prepared remarks.
Motion Picture Association of America Chairman and CEO Senator Chris Dodd released this statement tonight on President Obama’s re-election.
“I congratulate Barack Obama on his victory tonight. President Obama has demonstrated a great understanding of the importance of intellectual property to the fundamental strength of the American economy. In an era of partisan discord, there is bipartisan agreement that protecting American creativity and innovation is critical to our competitive edge in the global marketplace. I look forward to continuing to work closely with the Obama Administration to ensure the creative industries have every opportunity to thrive.”
MPAA chairman Chris Dodd focused on the common ground between the entertainment and tech industries today in a speech at the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco. Following a heated battle with Google and other tech companies ahead of the collapse of anti-piracy bills this year, Dodd praised Google for recent steps it has taken to curb online piracy, the LA Times reports. ”What I don’t want to do is relive the SOPA debate — and I hope you don’t either,” Dodd said, in a reference to the Stop Online Piracy Act that prompted an online protest by Google, Wikipedia, and others. ”Issues surrounding piracy and how we protect the hard work of many thousands of American creators and makers in movies and television are important though, and worth talking about together without heated rhetoric and raised voices. And I accept my share of responsibility for some of that in the past”, he said.
Do the movie studios which make up the MPAA realize that Chris Dodd is now part of non-member The Weinstein Company’s publicity machine? First there was Harvey Weinstein’s PR offense over the MPAA’s refusal to change the rating for The Weinstein Company documentary Bully from an R to a PG-13. Then at the Oscars the MPAA chief and Harvey Weinstein were seen hugging it out. Now Dodd, Weinstein and the film’s director Lee Hirsch will come together for a screening and panel discussion. Joining the group Thursday March 15th in Washington DC will be Kaya Henderson, the D.C. public schools chancellor. I’m not trying to say that bullying isn’t an awful problem or the MPAA isn’t wrong in its rating. But looks like Weinstein once again will get free publicity for one of his films – and how many actual MPAA members wouldn’t love that for their pics.
MPAA chief Chris Dodd used his speech today to the Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers as a rallying cry to side with content creators who support the Stop Online Piracy Act — instead of tech companies that largely oppose the bill introduced today in the U.S. House of Representatives. The proposal would empower the government to block overseas websites that traffic in stolen entertainment and intellectual property. Content companies say it’s needed to limit piracy, while tech companies and the Consumer Electronics Association say it could stifle free expression. In his prepared remarks, Dodd asked SMPTE to “bring your expertise and your numbers to bear as we fight back against the theft of our product.” Dodd said he rejects the view that “we in the film and TV industry are dinosaurs, clinging desperately to a broken business model and stubbornly refusing to evolve.” He added that “one of my top priorities at the MPAA will be to grow and strengthen” a sense of partnership between Hollywood and Silicon Valley. ”We cannot survive without each other.”
WASHINGTON—Senator Chris Dodd, Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA), today named Henry Hoberman, a veteran entertainment industry attorney, as the association’s new Senior Executive Vice President and Global General Counsel. In that position, Hoberman will oversee all legal, content enforcement and rights management programs within the MPAA, both domestically and abroad. He will assume his new position in early November. Hoberman comes to the MPAA with nearly 25 years of experience in the media and entertainment industry. Since 2008, he has been the Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of RHI Entertainment, Inc., responsible for all worldwide business affairs, legal affairs and human resources. For the previous decade, he held various positions of leadership at ABC and The Walt Disney Company, including Senior Vice President of ABC, Inc., responsible for overseeing litigation and employment practices for all business units of ABC and the ABC Television Network.