Glickman Defends Movie Industry's IP Meeting With Biden

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Motion Picture Association of America chairman Dan Glickman called this week's meeting of copyright industry representatives with Vice President Joe Biden, as well as the attorney general, head of the FBI and the secretary of Homeland Security, "very productive," and said the folks who criticized it were "dead wrong."

He also defended the industry's request to the FCC for a waiver of its selectable output controls, and said he thought there was a way to protect content and still find common ground with the FCC on network neutrality.

The meeting, was requested by the vice president's office to get more information about the copyright industry, Glickman said in an interview for C-SPAN's Communicators series.

He was defending the administration and the meeting from charges it was a one-sided affair because it featured representatives from the movie, music, games and publishing industries, but not from groups like Public Knowledge who argue the industry seeks to overprotect its content from legitimate "fair uses."

Reacting to a Public Knowledge blog posting, "Big Media Writing Joe Biden's Script," Glickman called it an effort to demonize the opposition and an ad hominem attack on the administration that would not win them very many friends there. "It is perfectly appropriate for our government to meet with industries producing jobs that feel they have a threat in the event you see business models develop that have the opportunity of ending, or significantly reducing it. So I think they are just dead wrong."

He said they had "the perfect opportunity" to have their own meeting with the same people, "and I expect they will."

The vice president, wanted to get more information on the nature of the IP, said the MPAA chief. He pointed out that as a Senator, Biden was head of the Judiciary Committee and interested in intellectual property, so it made sense for him to have the studios in for a meeting.

Glickman said IP theft of TV shows and movies has the potential to be a "dagger in the heart" of content creators. He also said that organized crime was beginning to move into the IP theft space and hoped there would be more government funds coming to fight it.

Asked if he were overstating the case for an industry with strong box office receipts, he said no, pointing to a slipping DVD business and uncertainty about monetizing the online element. He cited President Kennedy's advice that the time to fix the roof was when the sun was still shining. He said the sun wasn't exactly shining, but that he didn't want to wait until he was staring into the abyss and the industry was having to lay off half its work force to say the industry needed to do something.

Talking about MPAA's request to the FCC for a waiver on its selectable output ban (so studios could deliver movies before the DVD window and still protect them from unauthorized distribution), he said it was to help viewers--specifically the handicapped, senior citizens and small family groups he has met with. It would help them get access to movies earlier in the distribution window. He said it hurts no consumer.

Asked whether that would force some people to have to upgrade their older TV's to get that content, Glickman conceded there are some older sets that won't get the content, but said the number of those sets will be gradually reduced by new technology. He also said there are protections against some of the allegations of potential abuses of the waiver, and that the industry would not be operating on the worst-case scenario in any event.

On network neutrality, Glickman took issue with the suggestion the studios were entirely at odds with the Google's and Skype's of the world. "I think it's wrong to say that we are permanently opposed to these folks. That's just not true. We have been working very closely with the FCC, with Chairman Genachowski and the other commissioners in finding common ground to work on these issues, and I think we can get that done."

Glickman, a former congressman and Secretary of Agriculture in the Clinton Administration, is exiting the MPAA post at the end of next year. He said he was not sure what was next for him. But he said part of what had drawn him to movies were there stories about changing people's lives. He mentioned the possibility of moving to the nonprofit world or working in international, food and hunger issues. "I guess I want to see if I can save the world in this last part of my occupational life," he said.

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