MPAA's Dodd: We Need Both Content and Technology

Says Violent Content Regulation Would Be Slippery Slope

Motion Picture Association of America president Chris Dodd said he supports an open Internet, but not to the exclusion of copyright protections. He also said studios are committed to working with the Obama Administration to address gun violence, but that he was wary of regulation. He also signaled he was not looking to push legislation on piracy, suggesting the answer was instead in Hollywood and Silicon Valley's mutual recognition of how much they needed each other and working.

"We must strike a balance between a free and open Internet, which I strongly support," he said during a speech to the National Press Club, "and the protection of intellectual property." He said the choice should not be with protecting one or the other, but with finding a way to protect both.

"The issue becomes can these two worlds exist together, and I believe they not only can, but must if we are going to succeed...Content needs technology. Technology needs content, and I'm working as hard as I can to find ways that we can bridge this gap." He pointed out that MPAA was working with Google to get some of the illegal stuff of the first page, and cited the "six strikes" notification regime being launched next month.

"I'm not enthusiastic about legislating in this area," he said. "I think we need to try and find ways we can achieve what ought to make sense to everyone. Stop asking people to pick one side of this equation." He said someday someone would write a book about the fact that the creative community and Silicon Valley were a car ride away and they couldn't figure out how much they needed each other.

In his first speech to the National Press Club in his new post (he spent 30 years in the Senate and six in the House before that_ Dodd said he took the Newtown, Conn., shootings personally- he said he had driven through the town the night before the incident-but he would not say media was too violent, instead saying that there was a wide range of choice including content that was not for everyone.

Dodd was not waxing ecclesiastical, but he said the keys to content were choice, control and education, but that the greatest of those was control. "That second piece, the control, is really where we feel very strongly," he said. "We will do as much as we can to provide those kinds of tools."

Dodd said he thought trying to regulate content was a slippery slope, and that there was a temptation to do that that should be resisted.

Dodd said it was predictable that the NRA would try to paint video games and movies as environmental factors in gun violence, pointing out that comic books used to be cited in that role.

Dodd said much more focus in the gun violence debate should be placed on mental health, he maintained. He cited his former colleague, Senator (and now NAB president) Gordon Smith's work in this area following the death of his son. He said there were much more "pyrotechnics" about guns and media, but that if the government did anything, it should be something about the scourge of mental health. He asked whether anyone in the audience had not been touched by a mental health issue. There were no hands. "I have never met an audience yet where a single hand was ever raised. That's the space that really needs attention."

National Press Club president Angela Greiling Keane pulled no punches in her first luncheon speaker intro, pointing out the PR disaster of the MPAA's defeat on the SOPA/PIPA piracy bills.

Dodd said he thought there had been progress made between Hollywood and Silicon Valley and he applauded them for it. 

Dodd gave a shout out to broadcasters, though it came while touting theatrical motion pictures.

"Other than staying at home and listening to music or watching free TV programming, the most affordable and accessible for of entertainment is still watching a motion picture inside a state-of-the-art theater."