Contrary to popular belief, the Motion Picture Association of America doesn’t hate the Internet, just the illegal file-sharing, counterfeiting and copyright infringement perpetrated over it daily. Big difference.
MPAA Chairman and CEO Chris Dodd made the distinction during a speech (.pdf) at the Atlanta Press Club on Wednesday, addressing critics who believe the group is a technological stick-in-the-mud prepared to blow up the web so long as pirates are caught in the blast.
“Let me be clear,” Dodd told attendees, “Hollywood is pro-technology and pro-Internet. I firmly believe that our industry cannot survive without the innovations that come out of Silicon Valley every day – and I know that we must have a free and open Internet to keep those innovations coming. But it works both ways.”
The MPAA proved as much by helping the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice build a case against Kim Dotcom’s Mega empire, resulting in the closure of Megaupload and several other sites last month. Dotcom, along with three alleged accomplices, were apprehended in New Zealand. The controversial figure was granted bail this week as U.S. authorities seek extradition.
“There is a broad consensus – one that includes us in the film and television industry – around the idea that we must keep the Internet free and open,” Dodd said. “But there is also a broad consensus around the idea that we must act to stop the theft of intellectual property online.”
With anti-piracy proposals SOPA and PIPA abandoned (for now, anyway) by Congress, the MPAA lost its two best hopes for sweeping online copyright protection. The group has already dismissed the OPEN Act as ineffective and too slow to combat stalwart pirate groups that can sprout up under new domains within days of being shut down.
Despite the trade group’s ongoing battle with domestic and global copyright infringement, Dodd claimed Hollywood is moving forward with the understanding that consumers not only want, but expect great content through flexible services.
“We are evolving our business model to fit the demands of our customers – making it possible for them to get our content anywhere, any time, on any device,” said Dodd, adding, “but no one can compete with free.”
UltraViolet, a legal cloud-based cyberlocker backed by key movie studios, debuted last fall. Customers who purchase physical copies of select movies are entitled to a free digital download. The platform also allows for strictly digital purchases, though not without some drawbacks. No one can compete with free, but charging $20 to download old movies (with some in standard definition, no less) is more likely to draw guffaws than dollars from weathered pirates.
Flying in the face of Dodd’s technology-loving remarks is the trade organization’s current pet project: preventing a proposed DMCA revision from coming to pass, which would grant DVD and Blu-ray movie buyers the ability to legally back up their collection. According to MPAA lawyers, such an amendment would “undermine emerging business models” such as UltraViolet.